The Irving producer manages his ambitious musical theater out of the office he has set up in his home in the oldest part of Las Colinas. He doesn't even have an administrative assistant around to help him with the three enormous projects he's doing between now and the end of October.

Broadway conductor Jay Dias is staying in Mr. Jones' house as they prepare the epic concert version of Sweeney Todd that will be Lyric Stage's first venture at the Meyerson Symphony Center on Tuesday.

"It's crazy. Between 7:30 in the morning and 10:30 or 11 at night, the phone doesn't stop ringing," Mr. Dias says. "Sometimes Steven looks like that old cartoon where the guy has a phone in each hand, shouting 'Buy!' and 'Sell!' into each of them."

It was even crazier when Mr. Jones, who broke into the business as an actor, took a small role in Casa Mañana's South Pacific last month - just as plans for all his own shows were jelling.

"I never thought I'd say it, but thank goodness for cellphones," Mr. Jones says. "Everything was breaking for us that week, and fortunately cells even work in the basement of Bass Hall."

Lyric Stage has received a couple of foundation grants that enabled Mr. Jones to hire a marketing director for two limited periods in the past. Eventually he'd like to hire somebody to do that permanently, if he could find just the right person. But there's no money in his budget for the time being anyhow.

"I think a lot of arts organizations get in trouble because you have an artistic vision and you hire more people and spend more on physical productions," he says. "You get more and more in the red. Sometimes companies have a couple of donors who bail them out - but if you do that too often, you risk losing the organization."

By way of contrast, the Dallas Theater Center lists nearly 60 people on its staff. The comparison isn't entirely fair, since Lyric Stage doesn't run its own facility (which is usually the Irving Arts Center) or its own ticket office. It doesn't have an educational wing, either. Mr. Jones also hires some workers, such as carpenters and other backstage people, on a show-by-show basis, rather than keeping them on staff full time.

Still, Mr. Jones handles the tasks of perhaps 15 or 16 people at the larger theater. He chooses the shows, secures the rights to them and frequently casts them (especially if he's using a New York director). He's his own business manager and marketing director and press representative. Only rarely does he break his personal rule against acting in his own shows, but for special projects Mr. Jones, uncredited, has occasionally directed a show for Lyric Stage.

"My philosophy, right or wrong, is to put our money on the stage," he says, bragging all the while that from the beginning, Lyric Stage has been an Equity house, paying his performers union wages and not stinting on the insurance, as some of his competitors do.

Mr. Jones is the first to give credit to the supporters and colleagues who make Lyric Stage work, but basically Lyric Stage is him. It's all the more remarkable in that the company undertakes so many rare or new musicals: 12 world premieres over the last 10 years and 14 area premieres since Mr. Jones founded the organization in 1993. In Mr. Jones' home office, three bulging shelves hold nothing but original scripts and scores that he's constantly wading through.

Mr. Jones also increasingly divides his time between Dallas and New York. Lyric Stage has taken a couple of its shows to off-Broadway venues in the past. Currently, Mr. Jones is using the Lyric umbrella to produce a musical version of the cult movie The Night of the Hunter in the prestigious New York Musical Theatre Festival.

"I'm as energized as I've ever been in 15 years. I'm not tired. It's not stressful," Mr. Jones says. He varies the pace by jogging through his neighborhood and teaching elementary-level Sunday school at First Baptist Church in Irving.

Mr. Jones dreams about a time when he can turn over the day-to-day duties of Lyric Stage to somebody and spend more of his time producing in New York. But he would definitely have to learn to let go before that happens.

Tuesday at 8 p.m. Lyric Stage's founding producer says that his one-night-only concert version of Stephen Sondheim's masterpiece has a cast of 37 (compared with 27 in the original Broadway production) and an orchestra of 35 (compared with 24). He's eager to point out that the Broadway revival that just closed used only nine people, who had to both act and play the instruments. "It is a musical thriller, and it has a spectacular score," Mr. Jones says. "You have to have real voices. If you do, it's really thrilling."

at the 37 Arts Theatre, New York, Sept. 26-Oct. 1. Mr. Jones has been talking about doing this musical adaptation of the Robert Mitchum thriller for years, but just as he was about to announce a Dallas production, a California producer tied up the rights. Thanks to the show's lyricist, Stephen Cole - who wrote Lyric Stage's first world premiere, After the Fair - Mr. Jones is back at the helm, only in New York rather than Texas. The exciting cast includes Tony Award nominees Dee Hoty and Beth Fowler, along with Mr. Jones' good friend Mary Stout and Fort Worth's own Lois Sonnier Hart.

, Oct. 6-21. Lyric Stage received its first National Endowment for the Arts grant to enable it to research and produce this legendary 1940 musical fable, which has never again been done exactly as the creators intended - and is hardly ever done at all. Vernon Duke's score, which includes "Taking a Chance on Love," provided Ethel Waters with her greatest musical role. George Balanchine staged the original production. Mr. Jones has secured primo Fort Worth choreographer Bruce Woods to do the same job for him.

This is cache, read story here