BWW Reviews: Theatre UCF Brings on the Live Music in THE MUSIC MAN
THE MUSIC MAN is one of those classic shows where you either have seen it and love it, or haven't seen it but know all the music. There's only one way to do a show that centers around a city's marching band right - and that's with live music. This production represents a collaboration between the UCF Theatre and Music departments. Nothing beats live theater with a full 15+ person orchestra, with the added talents of the UCF Theatre department's acting students. This classic production hits all its notes.
Though THE MUSIC MAN made its New York City premiere in 1957, the production is still funny, in a nostaglic way. Seeing it is a refresher for many popular culture references especially the "Ya Got Trouble" and "Shipoopi" numbers. Of course, Meredith Wilson's music is timeless and sets the scene perfectly for turn-of-the-century America.
Professor Harold Hill arrives via train to River City, Iowa to sell musical instruments. Typical slimy salesman style, he causes a ruckus to increase his sales. People are naturally suspicious of his motives including librarian/music teacher Marian Paroo. It turns out that Hill knows nothing about music, but is a great public orator. Hill pursues Marian and flirting turns into an overwhelming love story. Just as Hill's con starts to unravel, miraculously his promised marching band appears playing using Hill's 'Think' method.
UCF Musical Theater major Andrew Connors plays the smarmy Harold Hill. Connors oozes the suave nature needed to play the role. His rousing "Ya Got Trouble" and "Seventy-Six Trombones" numbers were upbeat and full of energy. Connors almost plays the Music Man too nice, to the point where it is hard to believe that his intentions were never purely motivated by profit. He's still a charmer though.
Alexis Mativi plays the lonely librarian Marian Paroo. Her voice is sweet and her character is strong. Mativi does the songs "Goodnight, My Someone" and "Till There Was You" justice with clear classical voice training, but not overwhelming. At first her character is happily single, but the next moment, she's bending over backwards to protect her love. Alas this is bound to happen for women characters from the early 1900s.
As part of UCF's dedication to education, local kids also joined the cast for the roles of Winthrop Paroo, Amaryllis, and more. They act with just as much professionalism and developed talent as the college students. I imagine it will be just a few more years before these young thespians will take their own leads on the UCF stage.
The entire cast remains on-stage throughout the performance, but do not get in the way. The choreography and set match the feelings and simplicity of the 'Good ol' days'. This production leaves the audience feeling good and whistling the show tunes.
Directed by Mark Brotherton, THE MUSIC MAN runs at Theater UCF until March 2nd. For tickets and more information visit http://theatre.ucf.edu.
Photo Credit: Theatre UCF