June 6, 2003


The Musicman

reviewed by
Lynn Trenning









For more about Lynn Trenning, please visit her main page.

CPCC’s The Music Man, is a grand scale production, with an enormous cast, an extravagant set, and a 12-piece orchestra. The music is feisty. The leading lady trills like a piccolo. The villain is more huggable than hateable. And if that isn’t enough to justify the ticket price (I think it is), the sheer volume and originality of the costumes seals the deal.

Meredith Willson wrote the book, music and lyrics for The Music Man. It won five Tony Awards in 1958, and was nominated for six Academy Awards in 1962 and six Tonys in 2000. The story begins on July 4, 1912, in River City, Iowa, when Harold Hill comes to town. He is a shyster with a small town scam. “I have to create a desperate need for a boy’s band!”

And so he does, with a twinkle and a song, asking parents, “Are certain words creeping into his conversation, like swell?” Convincing them a band will protect keep their sons from moral iniquity, he collects money for instruments and uniforms, fully intending to be on a train to the next town before he teaches them to play a note. Hill’s charisma is infectious, and before you know it, little miracles are happening all around. The “stuck up Iowans” let down their facade.

Hill’s happy optimism charms almost everyone, from Marian the librarian, played by Susan Roberts Knowlson, to the Mayor’s daffy wife Eulalie, played by Pat Heiss. Patrick Ratchford’s performance as Hill is so suave it seems guileless. The role fits him as soundly as his dapper white suit.

Dennis Delamar is enjoyable as the blustery, word-scrambling Mayor Shinn. Knowlson is charming as Marian, a wonderfully written character. She is allowed to be smart and unmarried and uncompromised; what a concept. The town matrons are hilarious. In the musical number “Pick-a-Little, Talk-a-Little,” they personify gossips and rumors by strutting the stage, rhythmically jutting their chins and pumping their chests like fat little hens. Their feather boas and audacious hats are a hoot.

Robert Croghan’s scenic and costume design are outstanding, though too often the sound of rollers behind stage cause a distraction. Porkpie hats, plum and toffee colored ribbons, suspenders, fob watches and woman’s hats that look like living creatures are among the many details he captures.

Harold Hill leaves happiness in his wake, both on-stage and off. He is a reminder that illusion is a short, achievable step from reality.

Lynn Trenning, June 6, 2003

[ArtSavant link]
© 2000 - 2001 ArtSavant - enquiries to info@artsavant.com