Did you hear the one about the traveling salesman? No, not the joke; the musical, “The Music Man” that just opened for 2 weekends at Shawnee Mission’s Theatre in the Park.
Everyone’s favorite con-man, Harold Hill (Brian Larios) charms, cajoles, teases, and swindles Iowa townsfolk before facing a well-deserved tar and feather send-off. That’s the well-known premise in Meredith Wilson’s iconic musical comedy, set in the mythical town of River City, Iowa. Wilson’s score, known to many features the songs, “Seventy-six Trombones, Marian the Librarian,” “Til There Was You,” and many other familiar songs.
Nothing could be better suited for a July 4 celebration than “The Music Man.” The show is a definite crowd-pleaser and a great place to showcase many performers. The family-oriented theme, bright costumes, lively score and great choreography entertains all ages.
“The Music Man” must have a dominant lead actor for Harold Hill. He must sing and act the part that requires mastery of the patter-type musical numbers. He’s got to be accurate, articulate, and fast-talking. Brian Larios did all that was needed for a lively Harold Hill. As for the love interest, Betsy Bledsoe voiced Marian the piano teacher/town librarian with a beautiful, light soprano to bring Meredith Wilson’s love songs to the crowd. Larios and Bledsoe both sang beautifully.
Others of note in the cast were Sean Dearing (Marcellus Washburn), David Hunt (Mayor Shinn), Brandon Lazano (Charlie Cowell), and an over-the-top Pam Sollars who created an outstanding Mrs. Paroo. Another area of notice is the barbershop quartet numbers. The voices sounded fantastic on their numbers.
Eye-catching and bright costumes really helped give the show a joyful feel and texture. The colors accentuated the turn of the century era and the dance numbers exploded with color. Speaking of the dance, Madison Shelley’s choreography in the big numbers had the entire cast moving and adding to the story with appropriate dance movement. She added some flips and aerial tumbling to accentuate the skills of the dancers. The dance was always something to look forward to seeing.
Opening night had a few minor sound problems that can be corrected for future performances. One microphone did not work for one character and at another time the sound cue was missed. Lighting was good throughout and the set movement was good and worked well.
Part of the fun of such rousing shows is the audience reaction. The audience could not refrain from clapping along when the signature song “Seventy-six Trombones” had the performers marching on stage. The audience clapped along and followed suit when the curtain calls began. When the audience buys-in like that, you know the actors have captures the audience.
“The Music Man” production team is: Chris McCoy, director; Madison Shelley, choreographer; Langston Hemenway, musical director/conductor; Tracey Johnson, accompanist; Libby Bradley, costume designer; Grace Urquhart, props designer; John Hollan, hair and make-up designer; Olathe East High School Technical Theatre, scenic designer; Sai Rupp, lighting designer; Eric Robertson, lead lighting designer; John Prokop, sound designer; Josh Koan, lead sound designer; Brian Percival, stage manager; Sequoia Crissman, asst. stage manager; Cassidy Schuster, Asst. Stage Manager.
“The Music Man” cast is: Brian Larios as Harold Hill, Betsy Bledsoe as Marian Paroo, Sean Dearing as Marcellus Washburn, David Hunt as Mayor Shinn, Margo Mikkelson as Eulalie Mackecknie Shinn, Pam Sollars as Mrs. Paroo, Brandon Lozano as Charlie Cowell, Evan Langston as Tommy Djilas, Mia Vaught as Zaneeta, Matthew Runnels as Jacey Squires, Jonathan Arnold as Ewart Dunlop, Scott Kruse as Oliver Hix, Kyle Chamberlin as Olin Britt, Taylar Rabel as Alma Hix, Sarah Schulte as Maud Dunlop, Kourteney Halksworth as Ethel Toffelmier, Abby Downs as Mrs. Squires, Jeremiah Okken as Winthrop Paroo, Elliana Moore as
Amaryllis, Bridget Ammeen as Gracie, Jim Bradley as Conductor/Constable Locke, Debbie Blinn Farmer’s Wife.
ENSEMBLES: Pick-a-Little Ladies: Kelli Mattison, Hannah Mead, Elizabeth Lipford, Carolyn Braverman; Salesmen/Male Ensemble: Terrace Wyatt, Jr., Matt Walberg, Nate Hancock, Jaimeson Satterfield; Female Featured Dancers: Megan Secrest, Jadyn Butterfield, Lauren Payne, Amiee Grajeda, Charlie Trent; Male Featured Dancer: Charlie Klepper, Johnny Dinh Phan, Charles Trout, Sam DeVeney, Cole Bracken; At-large Ensemble: – Tess Sollars, Ira Good, Arlo Good, Wilson Rabel, Isabella Ayala.
The orchestra for “The Music Man” is: Piano – Tracy Johnson, Violin A – Stephen Gedert, Violin B – Sophia Peng, Violin C – Aleena Li, Cello – Sascha Begley, Bass – Ben Pritchard, Reed 1 – Crystal Kimmel, Reed 2 – Hannah Thurlby, Reed 3 – Amy Jantz, Reed 4 – Danielle Mays, Reed 5 – Christian Pierce, Trombone 1 – Lee Finch, Trombone 2 – Chris Blair, Bass Trombone – Larry Dahisten, Trumpet 1 – Scott Stevenson, Trumpet 2 – Austin Wakat, Trumpet 3 – Andrea Rogers, Percussion – Jonathan Huhn.
Theatre in the Park continues its 50 season with “The Music Man” with 2 weekend runs. For tickets and more information, check out the Theatre in the Park website. www.theatreinthepark.org
Tags: “The Music Man” review, Theatre in the Park, Kansas City Theatre, Kansas City Performing Arts, Kansas City Arts & Entertainment