Book, Music & Lyrics by Meredith Willson
Directed by Uwe Meyer
Choreographed by Kiri-Lyn Muir
Musical direction by Christopher Mounteer
Performed by Curtis Sullivan, Sherry Garner, & cast.
Port Hope Festival Production
Capitol Theatre, Port Hope
August 5 to August 29, 2010
Reviewed by Mary Alderson
Disclaimer: The reviewer’s son is part of this cast.
A Shipoopi Good Time
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. Currently on stage at the Port Hope Festival, this production of The Music Man capitalizes on the family-friendly story with an excellent, albeit small cast.
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 band instruments and uniforms, promising to put their boys 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 flatters the local piano teacher who also happens to be the librarian, so that 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 playing pool. 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 the Shipoopi is another big dance number. Till There was You is the beautiful love song, that was actually covered by the Beatles in 1963.
Curtis Sullivan plays the fast-talking Harold Hill very well. He will be remembered as Billy Bigalow in Carousel at Huron Country Playhouse. Sherry Garner’s beautiful soprano voice is perfect for Marian, as she sings Good Night My Someone and My White Knight with ease.
Larry Herbert is a delightful Marcellus, the one-time crook, who is now behaving himself. His rendition of Shipoopi, both singing and dancing, is comical. Jody Osmond also provides humour as the player-piano player who gets tangled up in the paper scroll.
Thomas Alderson plays Tommy Djilas, the boy from the wrong side of the tracks, with just enough attitude. Sarah Slywchuk is very good as Zaneeta, the ‘ye-gads’ girl, and together Tommy and Zaneeta do some lively dancing. Gail Hakula is entertaining as Marian’s Irish mother and Robert Allan makes a very nasty and lecherous Charlie Cowell, the anvil salesman. The quartet of school board members provides excellent harmony.
Despite the fact that this is a small cast of 16 with many of them playing two roles, they certainly have no difficulties filling the theatre with their voices, or filling the stage with their dance numbers. In other productions of The Music Man I’ve seen, the cast has had over 30 members, but these 16 are certainly able to fill the bill.
It’s well worth the trip to the quaint and historic town of Port Hope. See Mary’s Musings at www.entertainthisthought.com for an account of our visit.
The Music Man continues with eight shows a week until August 29 at the Capital Theatre, Port Hope. Tickets are available at the Port Hope Festival box office at 905-885-1071 or 800-434-5092, or visit www.capitoltheatre.com.