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BWW Reviews: Music Marches To The Fore In The Paramount's Postcard-Pretty THE MUSIC MAN

If it were not for Rohm's and Rabe's remarkable, Broadway-quality voices, and an orchestra of a size that one hears far too rarely these days, the stars of this production might very well by scene designer Kevin Depinet and lighting designer Jesse Klug (both recent BroadwayWorld Chicago Award winners for their work last season). Depinet has provided one of the most beautiful bare-bones sets I have ever seen, and Klug has lit it to resemble every kind of two-dimensional artwork you can imagine, from construction paper silhouettes to landscape painting to stereopticon slides to classic tourist postcards. There isn't a lot of scenery going on, but the wide open spaces of the upper Midwest and the Queen Anne architecture of the first decade of the 20th century are etched with breathtaking clarity. It's just lovely!

Melissa Torchia has selected fetching gowns and dresses for the ladies, and a variety of suits and period pieces for the men. Jeff Dublinske's sound design renders every word intelligible, if obviously amplified. And the properties design by Sarah Ross seems inevitable and as charming as Professor Hill himself.

And the songs! From the a capella, proto-rap opening number, "Rock Island," to the dazzling dichotomy that is the juxtaposition of "Iowa Stubborn" and "Ya Got Trouble," to the seamless dialogue and singing of "If You Don't Mind My Saying So" and "Pick-a-Little, Talk-a-Little," the thrills of "Seventy-Six Trombones" and "Wells Fargo Wagon," the sheer beauty of "My White Knight" and "Till There Was You," and more--well you get the idea! Despite the humor and the heartwarming message, it really is the music that does it for me, and for many. And did I mention that you get an overture, an entr'acte and exit music! Oh yes. The joys are many. Many, indeed.

"The Music Man" is a show that everyone who cares about the American musical must see and understand. And this is a rare chance to see it in a high-quality staging, in a way that resembles the way it was originally performed. Did I mention that I teared up toward the end? And I don't have kids, either. What I do have is a love of music, a love of the American musical, and a love for the America that produced this show. And that, gentle readers, is more than enough reason that you should go west and see "The Music Man" in the next two weeks. You will regret it if you miss this extraordinary and moving evening of greatness. I guarantee it.

THE MUSIC MAN runs through February 3, 2013, Wednesdays through Sundays, at the Paramount Theatre, 23 E. Galena Blvd. in Aurora, Illinois. Go to www.ParamountAurora.com for tickets, or phone 630-896-6666.


PHOTOS (from top): Emily Rohm and Stef Tovar; Stef Tovar and company; Mary Ernster, Johnny Rabe and Stef Tovar; Stef Tovar and company; Emily Rohm, Stef Tovar and company.

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Paul W. Thompson Paul W. Thompson, a contributor to BroadwayWorld.com since 2007, is a Chicago-based singer, actor, musical director, pianist, vocal coach, composer and commentator. His career as a performer, teacher and writer is centered at Paul W. Thompson Music, located in Chicago’s historic Fine Arts Building, where he teaches the great songs of Broadway to the next generation of musical theater performers. A native of Nashville, Tennessee, Paul was raised in a family of professional musicians and teachers, steeped in classical, gospel, country, pop, sacred and show music. Dubbed a “thin, winsome lad” at the age of 13 by a critic for the Nashville Banner, he earned two degrees in musical theater (a B.F.A. with Honors from Baylor University and an M.M. from the University of Miami, Florida), plus an M.B.A. with Distinction from DePaul University. Paul’s memberships include Actors’ Equity Association, the American Guild of Musical Artists, the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (proud voter for the Grammy Awards!), the National Association of Teachers of Singing and New York’s Drama League.

Moving easily between the worlds of classical music, religious music, classic pop and musical theater, Paul has appeared onstage or in the orchestra pit in concerts, musicals, operettas and operas in 30 states and in Europe, in a career spanning more than 35 years. His Chicagoland stage credits include “Forever Plaid” at the Royal George Theater and twenty mainstage productions at Light Opera Works. Paul joined the Chicago Symphony Chorus in 1995 (he was Tenor I Section Leader for four years and sings on two Grammy-winning recordings), and is one of Chicago’s foremost liturgical singers, marking 20 years as a member of the choir at St. James Cathedral (Episcopal) in 2011.He has composed and arranged a number of anthems, hymns and songs for worship and concert use, and collaborates on the creation of new works of musical theater. Paul can be found on Monday nights watching showtune videos at the world-famous Sidetrack nightclub, the inspiration for his weekly column, “The Showtune Mosh Pit.” His proudest achievement is that he has seen the original Broadway production of every Tony Award-winning Best Musical since “Cats.” No, really. Since “Cats!”

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