Review: Charm of The Music Man Is Refreshing
Meredith Willson’s The Music Man will never be considered “cutting edge” theater. It is a veritable time machine – musical theater set forever in amber, preserving a place and time in American history that was sweet and innocent.
And that’s precisely the pleasure of it. The show, now being presented for the next two weekends by the Jesuit Philelectic Society, is richly and proudly “family oriented.” In a time when so much of what passes for culture on stages, from Broadway to local boards, so often is coarse or downright vulgar, The Music Man can be as refreshing as an ice cream cone on a summer day.
Under the direction of Mrs. Kate Arthurs-Goldberg, the Phils’ spring musical springs to life with the energy and appeal of a Fourth of July fireworks display. Simply corralling the huge cast onto the stage would be a grand enough feat; but Arthurs-Goldberg draws enthusiastic performances from the entire cast, right down to the youngest “future Phils.”
The plot of the well-known show revolves around con-man Harold Hill who arrives in the small Iowa town of River City with a plan to fleece to townspeople by selling instruments, uniforms and music lessons with the promise to form a boy’s band. His plan encounters a hurdle as he “gets his foot caught in the door,” and falls for the local librarian, Marian Paroo.
In the leading roles, Thomas Hellmers and Allison Hoss bring a charming chemistry between Hill and Marian. By the time they meet on the footbridge in the second act, the audience is swept away with them. Each also has the vocal chops to handle the score that is more difficult than it appears. Hellmers masters the tongue-twisting “Trouble” with swift aplomb. Hoss displays a lovely voice that has a bell-like top note that rings out powerfully. Their duet of “Till There Was You” was just beautiful.
Connor Hill is a comic delight as the flustered Marcellus Washburn, one of the best sidekick roles of any American musical. His rollicking handling of “Shipoopi,” is among the highlights of the production.
As the barbershop quartet, Edward Medina, Tommy Curry, Jordan Kelley and Austin Ros create rich harmonies, as well as comic characterizations. (Adam Ledet joins the quartet for several performances.)
Among the large supporting cast, all of whom perform well, several others stand out, including Patrick Rappold as the blustering and domineering Mayor Shinn; Ashley Busenlener as his imperious wife, Eulalie; Hunter Bell and Sylvia Owen as the younger couple in love, Tommy and Zaneeta. Matthew Busenlener and Emma Potts raise the cuteness factor as Winthrop and Amaryllis.
Choreography by Kenny Beck ’79 is crisply executed. The “Shipoopi” number at the top of the second act is danced with lively precision. Ron Goldberg’s sets, lit by D.J. Galiano ’07, are both functional and a charming depiction of the small town.
Conductor Jason Giaccone conducts the score with a vivid hand. Though tucked backstage, the orchestra produces a big, brassy sound.
Catch the last two performances of The Music Man on Friday, April 17 and Saturday, April 18 at 7:30 p.m. in the Jesuit auditorium.
Pre-Sale/Advance Purchase (Purchase Now)
Reserved Seating: $15 for adults, $10 for students
General Admission Seating: $10 for adults, $5 for students
At the Door Purchase
Reserved Seating: $20 for adults, $15 for students
General Admission Seating: $15 for adults, $10 for students