March Your Family to The Carnegie Theatre for Music Man
Review by Dan Maloney of The Music Man: Carnegie Theatrer
This seasonâ€™s â€œfamily friendlyâ€ offering from The Carnegie is Meredith Willsonâ€™s classic, The Music Man. A Broadway hit when it debuted in 1957, The Music Man tells the story of traveling salesmen Harold Hill, and his scheme to dupe the small-town residents of River City, Iowa into purchasing instruments and uniforms for a boyâ€™s marching band. As part of his pitch, Hill promises to teach the kids how to play. The catch? He doesnâ€™t actually know anything about music.
Directed by savvy theater veteran Greg Procaccino, The Carnegieâ€™s production moves at a brisk pace and emphasizes the timeless score with musical numbers such as â€œSeventy-Six Trombonesâ€ and â€œTill There Was You.â€ This plays to extraordinary vocal talent of the cast, but does so somewhat at the expense of storytelling. While audience members familiar with the show wonâ€™t have any trouble following the plot, some of the details and laugh lines might move too fast for patrons coming to the production for the first time.
Dave Wilson is perfectly enjoyable as the smooth-talking Professor Harold Hill, and he deftly navigates Hillâ€™s standards such as â€œTroubleâ€ and â€œThe Sadder but Wiser Girl.â€ However, his real-life wife Sarah Viola steals the show as the townâ€™s music teacher and Hillâ€™s romantic interest, Marian the Librarian. A classically trained opera singer, Ms. Viola has the kind of voice where angels stop and listen. Her renditions of â€œGoodnight, My Someoneâ€ and â€œMy White Knightâ€ soar.
Traditional audience favorites include the School Board Barbershop Quartet, whose melodic version of â€œLida Roseâ€ is still humming in my head, and the ever-delightful Pickalittle Ladies. Sean P. Mette as Marcellus Washburn also gives a stand-out performance, nailing both the humor and energy of the show. Moreover, on top of handling the costume design, Jim Stump covers the archetype of the befuddled Mayor Shinn, and with a droll Irish accent, Angela Alexander Nalley is charming as Marianâ€™s frustrated mother, Mrs. Paroo.
The ensemble is at its best in the Act I finale of â€œThe Wells Fargo Wagon.â€ The unbridled enthusiasm of that number is one of the reasons I enjoy participating in and attending theater, and this cast scores big with it. In addition, I was impressed with performances of the younger cast members led by Tommy Djlas (Wesley Schmidt), Winthrop (Anthony Coletta), and Zanetta Shinn (Cassidy Steele). They more than hold their own on stage with the adult professionals.
The play is supported by scenic design from visual artist Bill Ross. A newcomer to theater, it will be interesting to see how Mr. Rossâ€™ stage work grows as he adjusts to a different medium. While the set does enough to establish River City, it comes off a little flat, and this lack of depth and dimensions in the playing area puts the actors at a disadvantage in their ability to tell the story.
More than anything else, however, I wanted to see more families in the audience. I donâ€™t know if the economy is still struggling or if parents of young kids just donâ€™t think about attending the theater as a family. But they should, and this is the perfect show for it. An unexpected pleasure of my evening was listening to the young lady behind me, no more than 5 or 6 years old, squeal with glee at Marianâ€™s costuming. We need more of this type of joy in our community, and The Carnegieâ€™s The Music Man delivers it.
The Music Man plays at The Carnegie through January 29th. For tickets, call the box office at 859-957-1940 Tuesday-Friday 12:00-5 PM or visit www.thecarnegie.com.