Theatre Mirror Reviews - "The Music Man"

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entire contents copyright 2004 by Tony Annicone

"The Music Man"

Reviewed by Tony Annicone

The closing show of Theatre Works 21st season is Meredith Willson's, "The Music Man". The show is set in 1912 and is the story of fast-talking Harold Hill who cons the good citizens of River City, Iowa into buying musical instruments by promising to create a boy's band. Not knowing a clarinet from a saxophone, Harold expects to skip town with cash in hand, only to caught by the arms of the beautiful Marian the Librarian, who transforms him into a reformed rogue and respectable citizen by curtain's fall. Director Lisa Forsgard takes her 39 member cast on a joyous romp to America's nostalgic past and musical director Mary Jo Rett delivers the show's standards to an appreciative audience, creating a musical treat for family members of all ages to enjoy.

Lisa casts her leading players perfectly and they deliver the goods not only with their acting but their singing,too. (Lisa is also a hard working director at North Attleboro middle and high school during the day and is used to working with large casts.) Mary Jo who not only conducts her marvelous 7 piece orchestra but plays piano, too, taught the vocalists their many songs wonderfully. The 200 costumes are by the hard working and dedicated Sharon Charette and the town set including the Paroo's huge yellow house, the town hall and two store fronts was designed and constructed by Mark Anderson who also plays Harold's mischief making sidekick, Marcellus in the show. (He does the lead in the wonderful dancing song with the children and Harold and Marian called "Shipoopi".)

The two splendid leads are played by Greg Bonin as Harold and Kathy Donahue as Marian. They are both triple threat performers and their acting, singing and dancing in these two roles are topnotch. Greg bounds around the stage as the energetic conman who can charm the money right out of your pocket. He convinces the citizens to invest in the band with his rendition of "Ya Got Trouble" and seals the deal with "76 Trombones" by making them visualize a boy's band. He pursues his lady love in "Marian the Librarian" where she ignores him by stamping the library books but it is his transition from the cad to a man who falls in love for real this time that will move you to tears when he realizes it in "Till There Was You" reprise. Kathy as Marian distrusts Harold at first but when he brings her little brother, Winthrop out of his shell, she falls for him and keeps his secret to herself. Kathy shows off her lovely soprano voice in "Goodnight My Someone" where she yearns to fall in love, "My White Knight" where she wants to fall in love with a down to earth man, "Will I Ever Tell You" (done in counterpoint with George Jasmin, Gil Corte, Bill White and Jon Lemoine, the barbershop quartet singing "Lida Rose") where she sings about telling Harold she loves him and "Till There Was You" where she confesses her love and lets Harold know he has brought the town to life when he arrived there on the 4th of July. The romance comes to fruitition by Marian's belief in Harold and the audience is rewarded at the happy ending and the excellence of these two performers.

Michelle Donovan shines as Mrs Paroo, Marian's doting mother. Her Irish brogue is excellent and she displays the warm side of this woman as well as the mother who speaks her mind when her children won't listen to her. 2 pint size performers who almost steal the show from the adults are Alex Taratuta as Winthrop and Katie Ryan as Amaryllis, Marian's piano student. Alex sings "Gary Indiania" and does solo work in the chorus number, "Wells Fargo Wagon". He also does a good job with the boy's speech impediment and a good job in the transformation from shy kid to outgoing and especially does well in his confrontation scene with Harold near the end of the show. Katie does a good job as the energetic girl who secretly has a crush on Winthrop. She acts up a storm, crying on cue and then sings "Goodnight My Someone" with Marian in a strong voice. Joe Casey plays a trouble making salesman in the second act who gets his comeuppance. The chorus does fine work on their numbers especially impressive is the first song in the show which is spoken by the salesmen called "Rock Island" and the lovely harmonies in "Iowa Stubborn", "Ya Got Trouble" and "76 Trombones". The quartet sings "Sincere" & "Good Night Ladies". (Due to the large size of this cast it is impossible to mention everyone individually.) So for a trip back to Iowa in 1912, be sure to catch, "The Music Man" before it is too late. You will be glad you did so you can hear the wonderful songs from the show again.

"The Music Man" ( 14 - 23 May)
78 Earle Street, WOONSOCKET, R I
1 (401) 766-1898

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide