The Music Man 2015

A Seventy-Six Trombone Celebration

The Drayton Theatre, the original flagship of the Drayton Entertainment empire, is celebrating its 25th Anniversary by bringing a musical theatre favourite to the stage – The Music Man.  The Music Man captured the hearts of Broadway audiences when it first opened in 1957, winning five Tony awards. The heart-warming story, stirring songs, and lively dancing still captivate theatre-goers today.  Musica Man 2015

The Music Man is the story of Harold Hill, a swindler who rides the train into River City, Iowa. He’s a smooth-talking charmer who wins over the cold, stubborn Iowans, and sells them musical instruments and uniforms, promising to put their children into a big brass marching band. But he’s no band leader and can’t read a note of music – the plan is to take their money and leave town before he’s found out. He sweet-talks the local piano teacher who also happens to be the librarian, so she won’t figure out his scheme and catch him. However, he’s the one who is caught. When Marian, the librarian, tells him she knew of his deception and didn’t turn him in, he realizes he’s in love with her.

The Music Man is full of familiar tunes – “Ya Got Trouble” is the song where Harold convinces the townspeople that they need a boys’ band because otherwise the young people will get in trouble in the new pool hall. A favourite is “Seventy-Six Trombones” where he describes his vision of the band. “Marian the Librarian” provides an opportunity for singing and dancing in the library, much to Marian’s dismay. “The Wells Fargo Wagon” announces the arrival of the band instruments, and “Shipoopi” is another big dance number. “Till There was You” is the beautiful love song that was actually covered by the Beatles in 1963.

David Rogers is a perfect Harold Hill, with a speaking voice much like Robert Preston’s, who made the role famous both on Broadway and in the later movie adaption. Rogers, of course, is well known for his role last year as Jean Val Jean in Les Misérables and in many other Drayton Entertainment productions.  He is co-artistic director at the Victoria Playhouse in Petrolia, where he appears often in concert-style shows.  Rogers’ amazing singing voice brings the many familiar songs to life.

Jayme Armstrong is the lovely Marion, the librarian.  She shows so much disdain for Harold when he arrives in River City, then later agrees to meet him at the foot bridge against her better judgement. Armstong as Marion shows her love for her little brother Winthrop which makes the transition in her affection for Harold believable.

Wade Lynch is a delightful Marcellus, the one-time crook, who is now behaving himself. His rendition of Shipoopi, both singing and dancing, is entertaining.  Christina Gordon provides comedy as Ethel Toffelmier and a Greek Urn dancer. Keith Savage is hilarious as the flustered Mayor Shinn and K. K. Edissi provides laughs as the reticent Eulalie Mackecknie Shinn.  Valerie Boyle is perfect as Mrs. Paroo, complete with a warm Irish accent.  As she tries to encourage her daughter to find a husband, she garners the most laughs from the audience, with lines such as “It’s a well-known principle that if you keep the flint in one drawer and the steel in the other, you’ll never strike much of a fire.”

Two talented young actors, Anna Bartlam as Amaryllis and Declan Cooper as Winthrop, nearly steal the show.  Graeme Goodhall plays Tommy Djilas, the boy from the wrong side of the tracks, with just enough attitude.  Danielle Benton is excellent as Zaneeta, the ‘yee-gads’ girl, and Goodhall and Benton do some amazing dancing.  Dean Hollin makes a very nasty and lecherous Charlie Cowell, the anvil salesman. The quartet of school board members including Brian Belleth, Derrick Miller, Christopher Wilson and Arthur Wright provides excellent barbershop harmony.  The ensemble is filled with energetic dancers and a darling children’s chorus completing this popular musical.

The Music Man is a wonderful old favourite and a great way to celebrate 25 years at the Drayton Festival Theatre.

The Music Man continues with eight shows a week until August 29 at the Drayton Theatre, Drayton. Tickets are available by calling the Box Office Toll Free 1-855-372-9866, or check http://www.draytonentertainment.com/

Photo: David Rogers and Company in The Music Man.  Photo by Hilary Gauld Camilleri. 

The Music Man
Book, Music and Lyrics by Meredith Willson
Directed & Choreographed by Michael Lichtefeld
Musical Direction by Steve Thomas
Performed by David Rogers, Jayme Armstrong, et al.
Produced by Drayton Entertainment
Drayton Theatre, Drayton
August 5 to 29, 2015
Reviewed by Mary Alderson

 

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