Directed by Gary Griffin
Musical Direction by David Kreppel
Choreography by Matt Raftery
At Marriott Theatre in Lincolnshire
Dazzling, sweet and nostalgic look at small town America dances, sings and marches into our hearts.
When you assemble such a expert group of talents and creatives as Andy Hite (Lead Artistic Director at Marriott Theatre) has, the result is a reinvigorated production of the 1957 musical comedy, The Music Man which beat out West Side Story for Tony as “Best Musical.” Full of wit, tongue-in-cheek satire sprinkled with many humorous bits, The Music Man contains one of the cleverest, hum-able and memorable scores ever to grace the stage. The Music Man is one of my favorite all-time musicals (see The 25 Broadway Musicals Everyone Should See) and Director Gary Griffin’s production adds to shows luster with reinvented, smart and creative choreography by Matt Raftery, better know as a dancer but now surly being noticed as a choreographer.
With Bernie Yvon as Harold Hill (a role Yvon makes his own), the slick-talking conman with the infectious smile and Johanna Mackenzie-Miller as Marian the Liberian, we have two major Chicago talents anchoring the show. Add terrific supporting work from John Reeger, obnoxious, Malaprop-prone mayor and his want-to-be choreographer wife, Eulalie, played with gusto by Iris Lieberman, th e show has depth. With the slick dancing Andrew Lupp and the motherly wise Mary Ernster as Marian’s mother and we have a delightful richly presented musical comedy. Willson’s wit, double entendres and wordplay spice things up with his rousing marches and sweet ballads.
From the opening number, “Rock Island” that finds the traveling salesmen singing and lamenting in perfect rhythm to the beats of a train, we realize that we are in for a dazzling night of musical theatre. When Yvon’s Hill grins at us, we know he is up to his conman tricks and when he scares the town folk with “Ya Got Trouble,” the dye is cast.
Hill shakes up the sleepy River City, Iowa town into worrying about their boy’s morality. His solution is a boy’s marching band complete with musical instruments and brass-buttoned uniforms. What he didn’t count on was falling in love with Marian the Librarian.
We see how Hill’s dynamic influence on the town wakes up not only the youth but the entire town’s people. Meredith Willson’s brilliant score and lyrics aptly depict the rural Midwestern sensitivities of 1912 Iowa. His rousing march “Seventy-Six Trombones” and the hauntingly clever “Marian the Librarian” and “Shipoopi” are among the terrific show-stoppers that Matt Raftery has swiftly created that utilizes every inch of Marriott in-the-round stage. Andrew Lupp’s Marcellus, Hill’s old friend sing with Hill of the old days in a well-danced duet “The Sadder But Wiser Girl.”
With toe-tapping and memorable tunes like “Seventy-Six Trombones,” “The Wells Fargo Wagon” and, of course “Ya Got Trouble,” The Music Man depicts the conservative pre-World War I sensitivities of small town America. He also hear fine harmonies for the barbershop quartet featuring Roger Anderson, Paul Pement, Elic Bramlett and Jarrod Zimmerman. Johanna Mackenzie-Miller delivers the romantic ballads “My White Knight,” “Goodnight My Someone” and “Till There Was You” delightfully with her golden voice.
This ‘feel-good’ musical needs to be remounted every few years so that the younger folks can experience the pleasure and craft of the Golden Age of Musicals. Don’t let the sweetness and charm of The Music Man fool you – Meredith Willson, Gary Griffin and Matt Raftery sure ‘knows the territory’ as much as Bernie Yvon’s Harold Hill. I can’t remember when I’ve enjoyed a musical as much as THIS production.
At Marriott Theatre, RT. 45 and RT. 22 in Lincolnshire, IL, call 847-634-0200, www.marriotttheatre.com, tickets $40 – $48, Wednesdays at 1 & 8 pm, Thursdays and Fridays at 8 pm, Saturdays at 4:30 and 8 pm, Sundays at 1 & 5 pm, running time is 2 hours, 25 minutes with intermission.