Rita Gardner
Rita Gardner
Rita Gardner and Susan Watson will join in a tribute to the creators of The Fantasticks, to be held as part of the William Inge Theatre Festival in Independence, Kansas, on April 25.

The evening will honor the musical's lyricist and librettist, Tom Jones, and composer Harvey Schmidt, with the Inge Festival's Distinguished Achievement in the American Theatre Award. Jones will be present throughout the festival (April 22-25); Schmidt has sent regrets he will be unable to attend.

Both actresses played the female lead of Luisa in The Fantasticks, a signature role that launched both into acclaimed stage and film careers. They will perform excerpts from Jones and Schmidt musicals at the Inge Festival Tribute, entitled Celebrate and Remember. They will be joined by more than two dozen professional performers from both coasts.

Gardner most recently appeared on Broadway in The Wedding Singer, with additional Broadway credits include A Family Affair, Ben Franklin in Paris, and Last of the Red Hot Lovers. Watson received a Tony nomination for A Joyful Noise, with other Main Stem credits including Bye, Bye Birdie, Celebration, No, No, Nanette, and Carnival.

For more information, visit www.ingecenter.org.