Theatre Mirror Reviews - "The Music Man"

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entire contents copyright 2007 by Tony Annicone

"The Music Man"

Reviewed by Tony Annicone

The first show of Bay Colony's 2007 season is Meredith Willson's "The Music Man". The show first opened on Broadway on December 19, 1957 and ran for 1,375 performances. Robert Preston played the leading role of Harold Hill who cons the good citizens of River City, Iowa into buying musical instruments and band uniforms by promising to create a boy's band in the town. Not knowing a clarinet from a saxophone, Hill expects to skip town with cash in hand, only to be caught by the arms of the beautiful Marian Paroo, the librarian, who transforms him into a reformed rogue and respectable citizen by the close of the show. This fantastic show is well directed by Jim Sullivan who chooses the most talented performers to fill each and every role. Rob Goldman teaches the cast the glorious melodies and harmonies of these songs and Dori Bryan supplies the choreography to capture the hearts of the audience. This trio delivers the goods with their cast in this exuberant rendition of this classic musical and they are rewarded with a well deserved standing ovation at the curtain call.

Jim infuses his cast with high energy from start to finish of the show from the youngest child to the oldest adult. He pays attention to every detail of the show to make it a success. Rob's expert musical direction shines throughout the show but especially in the barbershop quartet where their exquisite harmonies soar. His orchestra is always topnotch and this one is no exception. Dori brings out the best in the cast especially in "76 Trombones", "Marian the Librarian" and "Shipoopi". Her dances include soft shoe, charleston, ballet and the polka. (The children in the show excel in their dancing and one of the best young dancers in the show is Tristan Viner-Brown, a 16 year old who I first saw as Louis in "The King & I" in 2001.) Their staff is topnotch, too. The multitude of gorgeous costumes are by Daniel Kozar while the excellent sets and set piece which move on and off stage perfectly are by Michael Teixeira who also stage managed and did the lighting design for the show. Ed DiMarzio handles the sound while Gail Gilman creates the numerous props for the show.

Leading the talented cast is John Porcaro as Harold Hill who has a wonderful singing voice. He goes from brash uncaring cad to a remorseful person when confronted by a little boy whose life he changed for the better. John as Hill cons the town with his "Trouble" number and puts the finishing touches to his proposal with "76 Trombones". (Loved the reversible suit and band jacket.) John and the cast stop the show with their unbelievable singing and dancing in "76 Trombones" number. He and the kids dance in the "Marian" number in the library scene. One of the cleverest numbers is "The Sadder But Wiser Girl" where John and Chris DiOrio who plays Marcellus dance with Kara Moulter who plays Marcellus' girlfriend, Ethel. John tugs at your heartstrings with "Till There Was You" reprise where he reforms his ways. Katherine Joy is wonderful as Marian who shows her distrust of Hill at first but when he brings her little brother, Winthrop out of his shell, she falls for him and keeps his secret to herself. Her lovely soprano voice soars off the charts in "My White Knight" where she yearns to fall in love with a down to earth man (her mother cradles her father's photograph during the song adding some extra poignancy to it), "Goodnight My Someone" where she wishes to find someone to love, "Will I Ever Tell You, (done in counterpoint with the quartet's "Lida Rose") where she sings about telling Harold she loves and "Till There Was You", where she confesses her love to Harold at last. Katherine gets to show off her dancing in "Shipoopi".

Harold's fellow conman, Marcellus is excellently played by Chris DiOrio who makes every one of his comic lines count and gets a chance to show off his strong tenor voice in "Shipoopi", "The Sadder but Wiser Girl" and the chorus numbers. Mayor Shinn is played by Steve Dooner who continually mangles the English language committing many malapropisms along the way. He not only is humorous in this role but dances up a storm with his wife in the show, lifting her on his shoulder at end of Shipoopi and in the finale. His wife, Eulalie is played by Laura Desmarais who is one of the most attractive Eulalie's I have ever seen. She and her gaggle of town gossips are a hoot in their "Pickalittle" number, Indian dance and their Grecian Urn segment, too. One of the best quartet's I have ever seen in this show are Brian Gustafson (who has the best falsetto and tenor voice around), Michael Warner ( another unbelievable tenor), Patrick Murphy and Charlie Morgan. They show off their voices in "Sincere", "Goodnight Ladies", "It's You" and "Lida Rose" and receive thunderous applause after all of them. Carol Kingsbury shines as Mrs. Paroo, Marian's doting mother who speaks her mind when her children don't listen to her but also displays a warmth to show she loves them, too. Her Irish brogue is fabulous and she gets to show off her voice in "Piano Lesson" and "Gary, Indiana". Katherine Nedder plays the young girl Amaryllis who has a crush on Winthrop. She hits the wrong note during her piano lesson, gets to show off her voice in "Goodnight, My Someone" and gets to show off her strong dancing ability in "Shipoopi" when she lifts Winthrop up instead of him lifting her up. The biggest scene stealer in this show is eight year old Andrew Purdy as Winthrop. He captures the hearts of the audience as the shy, lisping boy who makes a transformation during the show. Andrew's powerful singing voice sells "The Wells Fargo Wagon" segment where he shows the child's excitement at receiving his trumpet and in his big solo "Gary, Indiana" where he not only sings up a storm but dances perfectly in it, too. The confrontation scene with Harold in the second act is also dynamite when Winthrop demands to know if he is a liar and a crook. Andrew's Charleston in "Shipoopi" with Katherine Nedder is wonderful. His next role is as Theo in "Pippin" in March. (Talk about a being busy actor and he is only 8 years old.) Tristan Viner-Brown plays the trouble making Tommy who reforms and becomes the drum major in the band. Tristan, as I said earlier in this review, is a tremendous dancer who can sing and act well, too. Playing his girlfriend in the show is Tal Heller who is also an excellent dancer, too. Kudos to all the adults and children who make this a show to be proud of. So for a look back on America in 1912 in Iowa, be sure to catch this fabulous rendition of "The Music Man". Tell them Tony sent you.

"The Music Man" (2 - 11 February)
Orpheum Theatre, 1 School Street, FOXBORO MA
1 (508) 543-ARTS

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