Theatre Mirror Reviews - "The Music Man"

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entire contents copyright 2006 by Tony Annicone

"The Music Man"

Reviewed by Tony Annicone

The second show of Summer Stage at Bishop Hendricken's 7th season 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 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 end of the show. Director Brian Cordeiro casts 60 energetic young people in this show and they capture your hearts with their acting, singing and dancing, providing the audience with an exuberant rendition of a classic 1950's musical.

Brian blocks the show using the whole theater and obtains top notch performances out of these kids. He is aided in this huge undertaking by Father Ron Brassard, the musical director who brings out the strength in the voices of these young performers especially the quartet whose harmonies are lush and lovely to listen as well as the annunciation of the lyrics especially by the Pick-a-Little Ladies. The choreography by Caitlin Doyle includes the Charleston, the Cha Cha, soft shoe and some funny Grecian Urn poses, too. Caitlin is also accomplished actress having played the dramatic role of Christine in Providence College's "My Sister in the House". The town set pieces by Tom Gambardella are wonderful as is the lighting by Jordan Fielding. The multitude of lovely costumes are by Kerrin Nagle and the hard working stage manager who keeps 60 kids in line, is Chris Tucci, a 2004 graduate of Hendricken.

Leading this cast is Christopher Maymon, a sophomore who delivers the goods with a powerful performance as Harold Hill. He began acting at the age of 6 and his range of emotions capture this character beautifully. Chris changes from uncaring cad to finally feeling remorse for his actions when he falls in love with Marian and when he is confronted by little brother. He cons the town with his "Trouble" number and puts the finishing touches to his plan with "76 Trombones" while he woos the girl with "Marian, the Librarian" and sings about "The Sadder But Wiser Girl for Me". Chris as Harold, tugs at your heartstrings in "Till There Was You" as he realizes the error of his ways. A talented young man who handles this huge role with ease and is destined for a bright future in the theater. Megan McNulty, a freshman at RIC, plays the piano teacher, Marian. She shows the character's distrust of 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. Megan's gorgeous soprano voice sells "Goodnight My Someone" where she sings to whomever she will marry, "My White Knight" where she yearns to fall in love with a down to earth man and in "Till There Was You" where she confesses her love to Harold at last. Megan gives the character the spunkiness it needs to carry it off and she and Chris have the chemistry to pull off the love angle in it, too.

The four quartet members, Michael Francis, James Patefield, Derek Capobianco and Sabatino Giordano, are the best I have ever seen in this show. They can ACT as well as sing perfectly and even sing the Entracte at the beginning of Act 2. They sing "Sincere", "Goodnight Ladies" and "It's You" as well as "Lida Rose" in counterpoint with Megan. Other standouts in this show are the Mayor and his wife played by Colin Nagle, a senior at Wheeler and Taylor Butzbach, a freshman at Boston University. Colin is hilarious as the pint sized mayor who has many malapropisms and funny one liners which he delivers with ease. Taylor as Eulalie, the overly dramatic grande dame of the town is hilarious as she leads the women is the Grecian Urn segment and in "Columbia, the gem of the Ocean". She also leads her four busybody friends played by Shannon Grace, Hannah Van Meter, Juliana Forsberg-Lary and Ashley McKhann in the gossip number, "Pick-a-little, Talk-a-little" which is the first time I understood and heard all the lyrics in this tongue twisting song. Becky Ryan shines as Mrs. Paroo, Marian's doting mother. Her Irish brogue is perfect as is her old lady voice. Christopher Davey is cute as Winthrop and shows off his strong singing voice in "Wells Fargo Wagon" and in "Gary, Indiana". He handles the speech impediment and the argument scene with Harold very well. Harold's crooked sidekick, Marcellus is played by Jeffery Buco who lead the chorus in the high energy dance number, "Shipoopi". The show's villain, Charlie Cromwell is played by Michael Miele who sings and tap dances with Luke Doyle, Stefano Perti, Nicholas Reay, Nathan Ricci and David Broccoli in the opening a cappella number called "Rock Island". (Boy, can these guys tap dance.) The town trouble maker, Tommy is well played by Davis Alianello who has a crush on the mayor's daughter, Zaneeta played by Katie Ryan. Amaryllis is played by Annalisa Carmosino, a freshman at Bay View while Sean Flaherty, a sophomore at Hendricken, plays Tommy's sidekick. Kudos to everyone who worked on making this a production to be very proud of. So be sure to catch "The Music Man" before it is too late. ( I appeared in the River City's boy's band in this show back in 1969 when I was a freshman at Hendricken.)

"The Music Man" (28 July - 5 August)
2615 Warwick Avenue, WARWICK R I
1 (401) 739-3450

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