Theatre Mirror Reviews - "The Music Man"

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entire contents copyright 2007 by Tony Annicone

"The Music Man"

Reviewed by Tony Annicone

Star Players of Bristol County's summer show this year is Meredith Willson's, ''The Music Man". The show first opened on Broadway on December 19, 1957 and ran for 1375 performances. Robert Preston played the leading role of Harold Hill and appeared in the 1962 movie version. The show is set in 1912 and is the story of the fast-talking Harold Hill who cons the good citizens of River City, Iowa into buying musical instruments and band uniforms by promising to create a boys 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 end of the show. Producer/director Joel Thayer leads his huge cast on a joyous trip to America's nostalgic past while musical director Charlene Dalrymple not only taught the cast the gorgeous music but conducts the topnotch orchestra and last but not least the choreography by Pam Shapiro where she creates fabulous dances for the entire cast ranging from very young children all the way up. This energetic and exuberant show will lift your spirits as well as lift you out of your seat to give it a standing ovation as its reward.

Joel blocks and directs his performers wonderfully and keep the pace of the show constantly moving. Charlene's orchestra is fantastic and her vocal training of the cast is excellent, too. Pam's dance numbers are poetry in motion with "76 Trombones'' stopping the show with its magnificence. Other dance numbers include "Marian", "Shipoopi" and Footbridge Ballet. (Some of the dance styles include soft shoe, tap, polka, cakewalk and ballet. The marching and drum major moves are brilliant, too. The terrific sets are by Laura McPherson, the multitude of beautiful costumes is by Jonna Klaiber with lighting by Justin Freeman, sound by Bruce Yauger and stage managed by Diane LaChance.

Leading this enormous cast in a tour de force performance is Gary Poholek as Harold Hill. This man is one of the best actors around and his singing and dancing will also astound you. He goes from brash uncaring cad to remorseful, repenting man when confronted by a little boy who's life he has changed for the better and by a woman's deep love. Gary's wonderful voice is heard when he cons the town with "Trouble" he puts the finishing touches to his proposal with "76 Trombones" where he, the child and adult dancers bring down the house with this song and dance number. He also does a splendid dance in "Marian" with the kids while everyone dances on the tables and finally he tugs at your heartstrings in his final verse of "Till There Was You" where he turns himself in, admitting his love for Marian and his caring about Winthrop. Gary is one of the best Harold Hill's I have ever seen. Bravo. Jessica Haugh, Charlene's real life daughter plays the role of Marian. She shows the character's 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 sells her beautiful numbers including "My White Knight'' where she yearns to fall in love with a plain and simple man not a knight in shining armor, "Goodnight My Someone" where she sings to whomever she will marry in the future, "Will I Ever Tell You" (done in counterpoint with "Lida Rose" sung by the barbershop quartet, Scott Simpkin, Michael Borges, Jarrad Blanchard and Ed Valadao whose wonderful harmonies are heard in "Sincere", "Goodnight Ladies" and "It's You".) where she sings about telling Harold she loves him and "Till There Was You", where she confesses her love to him at last. He brought the town to life when he arrived on July 4th and Marian's belief in his inner goodness is rewarded, giving the show a happy ending.

The biggest scene stealer in this show is nine year old Andrew Purdy as Winthrop. His transition from shy lisping lad to confidant boy by shows end is astounding. Andrew's awesome singing voice is heard in "Well's Fargo Wagon"and "Gary, Indiana''. His confrontation scene with Gary is terrific and he brings tears to your eyes with it's sincerity. Andrew maybe only nine but he is loaded with talent at an early age. Be sure to keep your eye out for bigger and better things from him down the road. Harold's fellow conman, Marcellus is well played by Paul Hayden. (He speaks in a normal voice not a high pitched squeaky imitation of Buddy Hackett from the movie.) He shines in this role and he gets to show off his strong singing voice and dancing ability in "Shipoopi" with Gary, Jessica and the entire chorus. The pompous, long winded, malapropism mayor is played by Omer Courcy while his dowager, wife Eulalie is played by Linda Monchik who sings "Pickalittle" with the nosey town gossips, sings "Columbia, the Gem of the Ocean", do an Indian skit and gets to dance in the Grecian Urn skit. Marian and Winthrop's doting mother is played by Beth Goldman Galer while Kelsey DeGouveia plays Amaryllis who is Marian's piano student and who has a crush on Winthrop. The town trouble maker, Tommy is played by David Rodrigues who is fantastic dancer as is Johanna Wickemeyer who plays Zaneeta Shinn. Kudos to all the cast members and everyone else who make this into the wonderful show it is. So for a trip back to Iowa in 1912, be sure to catch "The Music Man" in Taunton.

"The Music Man" (10 - 19 August)
Croteau Theatre, 500 Norton Avenue, TAUNTON MA
1 (508) 821-2524

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