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Review Roundup: THE MUSIC MAN Opens On Broadway Starring Hugh Jackman and Sutton Foster

The production stars Tony-winners Hugh Jackman and Sutton Foster as Harold Hill and Marian Paroo.

The Music Man

The Broadway revival of The Music Man opens tonight at Broadway's Winter Garden Theatre, starring Tony-winners Hugh Jackman and Sutton Foster! Read the reviews as they roll in!

The production, directed by four-time Tony Award winner Jerry Zaks, with choreography by Tony Award winner Warren Carlyle, also stars Tony Award winner Shuler Hensley as Marcellus Washburn, Tony Award winner Jefferson Mays as Mayor Shinn, Tony Award winner Jayne Houdyshell as Mrs. Shinn, and Tony Award winner Marie Mullen as Mrs. Paroo, Remy Auberjonois as Charlie Cowell, Gino Cosculluela as Tommy Djilas, and Emma Crow as Zaneeta Shinn.

Joining the cast are Benjamin Pajak as Winthrop, Kayla Teruel as Amaryllis, Garrett Long as Ethel Toffelmier, Linda Mugleston as Alma Hix, Jessica Sheridan as Maud Dunlop, Rema Webb as Mrs. Squires, Phillip Boykin as Olin Britt, Eddie Korbich as Jacey Squires, Daniel Torres as Ewart Dunlop, Nicholas Ward as Oliver Hix, Max Clayton as Standby for Harold Hill, and Nick Alvino, Jordan Beall, Ronnie S. Bowman Jr., Maria Briggs, Audrey Cardwell, JT Church, Kammie Crum, Aydin Eyikan, Carlee Flanagan, Ethen Green-Younger, Emily Hoder, Curtis Holland, Eloise Kropp, Ethan Lafazan, Kayla LaVine, Andrew Minard, Sean Montgomery, Tanner Quirk, Lance Roberts, Daniel Patrick Russell, Ann Sanders, Sherisse Springer, Mitchell Tobin, Kathy Voytko, Branch Woodman, and Ryan Worsing rounding out the ensemble.

One of the most universally cherished treasures of the American musical theater, The Music Man was an instant smash hit when it premiered on Broadway on December 19, 1957. It went on to win five Tony Awards, including the prize for Best Musical, and ran for 1,375 performances. The original cast album held the number one position on the Billboard charts and stayed on the album charts for 245 weeks. The recording won the first-ever Grammy Award for Best Original Cast Album. The Smithsonian Institution ranks The Music Man as one of the "great glories of American popular culture."

The Music Man creative team includes four-time Tony Award winner Santo Loquasto (Scenic & Costume Design), five-time Tony Award winner Brian MacDevitt (Lighting Design), Tony Award winner Scott Lehrer (Sound Design), Luc Verschueren for Campbell Young and Associates (Hair, Wigs, & Makeup Design), Tony Award winner Jonathan Tunick (Orchestrations), David Chase (Vocal and Dance Arrangements), and Patrick Vaccariello (Musical Director).

Jesse Green, The New York Times: The musical, which opened on Thursday night at the Winter Garden Theater, only intermittently offers the joys we expect from a classic revival starring Hugh Jackman and Sutton Foster - especially one so obviously patterned on the success of another classic revival, "Hello, Dolly!," a few seasons back. The frenzy of love unleashed in that show by Bette Midler, supported by substantially the same creative team - including the director Jerry Zaks, the choreographer Warren Carlyle and the set and costume designer Santo Loquasto - has gone missing here, despite all the deluxe trimmings and 42 people onstage. Instead we get an extremely neat, generally perky, overly cautious take on a musical that, being about the con game of love and music, needs more danger in the telling.

Thom Geier, The Wrap: Director Jerry Zaks' production is a throwback in just about every sense, for good and for bad. There are elaborate sets (by Santo Loquasto, who also did the costumes) with backdrops that suggest the work of Grant Wood - at one point, two chorus members even re-create "American Gothic." There's an orchestra of two dozen musicians and a cast of 40 that sometimes seems as crowded upstage as one of those high school productions that accepts everybody who auditions. Disconcertingly, there are also six principals - Tony winners all - who reinforce the glaring lack of diversity in 21st-century Broadway revivals as much as in 1912 Iowa.

Charles Isherwood, Broadway News: The highly, if not ecstatically, anticipated revival of "The Music Man" - pandemic-delayed and pandemic-plagued - was the obvious, if not the only, candidate to bring a jolt of much-needed excitement to the business. More's the pity, then, that this undeniably polished production, with its ticket-sales-galvanizing star, Hugh Jackman, proves to be a sadly mechanical, overproduced and overdesigned revival of a musical that needs tender care to allow its undeniable charms to bloom.

Greg Evans, Deadline: Warren Carlyle's energetic, song-and-dance choreography blends vaudeville panache, ballet and pre-Depression dance craze, hitting all the right spots at all the right angles. Still, anyone who has seen the thrilling movies of MJ or the boundary-pushing explorations of Flying Over Sunset might be left a bit un-wowed. Like so much else with this Music Man, from Loquasto's attractive, wheat-colored turn-of-the-century costumes to Brian MacDevitt's autumn lighting, the dancing is expert - effortless even - yet still and all underwhelming. The Music Man lives up to every expectation except the most crucial one: Surprise.

Adam Feldman, Time Out: [...] Marian's "My White Knight" has been expanded by restoring a long and busy introduction that was cut from the original production. Foster speeds through the latter song so fast you'd hardly recognize it as one of The Music Man's oases of dreamy lyricism. What you get is comedy; what you lose, here and elsewhere, is the contrast of opposites-and attendant sexual chemistry-between Marian and Hill. Foster and Jackman seem to have fun together in the curtain call, tap dancing in matching white bandleader outfits, but their romance is otherwise half-hearted.

Mark Kennedy, Associated Press: Jackman is but just one astonishing part of the subtly reworked Meredith Wilson musical that opened Thursday night at the Winter Garden Theatre. It overflows with talent, clever ideas and a hard-working multicultural cast. Sutton Foster somehow channels her inner Carole Burnett to play Hill's reluctant love interest, showing a gift for physical humor and comic timing in addition to nifty tap dancing and a gorgeous voice. If there ever was a stage match for Jackman, Foster is it.

Johnny Oleksinski, The New York Post: "The Music Man," I'm sorry to say, does not live up to our oversize expectations. Quite unexpectedly, you leave not raving about Jackman, one of Broadway's hottest sellers, but the music woman - Sutton Foster, who plays Marian "The Librarian" Paroo. She's a wonder and the main reason to buy a ticket. Much has been made of Foster not having the soaring soprano range of Barbara Cook and Shirley Jones, but that doesn't matter. Hers is as thoughtful, funny, threatening, witty, maternal and romantic a Marian as you've ever seen. She never settles for a schoolmarm stereotype and makes 65-year-old lines fresh.

Dan Rubins, Slant: The Music Man has long had the misfortune of being both overexposed and underappreciated, a mainstay of school and amateur productions that doesn't consistently let audiences in on the sophistication and emotional honesty of Meredith Willson's score and storytelling. (Hearing that score played by a 24-piece orchestra at the Winter Garden Theatre under the baton of Patrick Vaccariello is especially gratifying here.) But there's nothing simplistic about The Music Man, and this slightly zany production, deeply felt and deeply funny, sells the show's intelligent warmth with a persuasiveness to rival Harold Hill himself.

Helen Shaw, Vulture: Certainly it feels like a glitzy, age-of-musicals move to cast Sutton Foster and Hugh Jackman; it's increasingly rare to see a pair of stage stars of this megawattage sing and dance together. Their celebrity and undeniable presence seem to have overcome any little concerns about fissures between the performers and their characters - there are places where Foster's mezzo strains in the high stuff and Jackman goes sour. But director Jerry Zaks solves that by bringing 'em front-and-center, to stand (or dance) on the stage lip and radiate Golden Age glamor.

Frank Scheck, The Hollywood Reporter: Unlike, say, the daringly iconoclastic revival of Oklahoma! that played Broadway a few years back, this production of Meredith Willson's classic musical proudly revels in its old-fashionedness. Why mess with something that isn't broken, it seems to be asking, especially since we've got our stars as our ace in the hole. From his first surprise entrance (at least to those who have never seen the musical before) to his showstopping numbers "Ya Got Trouble" and "Seventy-Six Trombones" to his climactic moment, when he stares directly at the audience with a smile that seems to contain more gleaming teeth than there are stars in heaven, Jackman has the audience in the palm of his hand. And when Sutton finally gets to shed her character's decorousness and let loose her tremendous dancing chops, there's definitely no more trouble in River City.

Matt Windman, amNY: The revival, starring Hugh Jackman and Sutton Foster, and featuring a large cast and orchestra, plus splashy sets and costumes and dance choreography, is by no means a train wreck. (It is certain to bring pleasure to many theatergoers - and some of them might even be glad they spent hundreds of dollars on premium-priced tickets.) However, all these individual elements, no matter how luxurious or impressive, do not come together to create the kind of one-of-a-kind alchemy that you find in the greatest productions. (That being said, perhaps over time the production will come together and get better.)

Juan A. Ramirez, Theatrely: Everything onstage is pure Broadway gold, fine-tuned to the gods and played to the back of the house. If only an enterprising huckster with ambitions greater than his reach had waltzed backstage, to whip the auto-piloting creative team into a frenzy, perhaps this revival would have been worth all that trouble in River City.

Roger Friedman, Showbiz411: Jackman runs the show, it's his show as Harold Hill. He's deflated physically from playing Wolverine, probably from all the dancing, and the non stop action. He is what you look for in a Broadway leading man, full of charisma and optimism. He beams light from the stage. For me, though, it's all about Sutton Foster. They've even created a big tap dance number at the end of the show just for her (Jackman joins her but it's spotlight). When Sutton Foster grins you can see it from all over the theater. I was at the back of the orchestra but it was clear to see how much she was enjoying the show.

Jesse Oxfeld, New York Stage Review: The charming Jackman plays the salesman, who goes by Prof. Hill, and the beloved (if somewhat underutilized) Sutton Foster is the librarian, Marion. They are aided by a supporting cast of Broadway greats nearly sufficient to staff a mansion on The Gilded Age. (When you've got Jefferson Mays as the consistently befuddled Mayor Shinn and Jayne Houdyshell as his hilariously preening wife, Eulalie Mackechnie Shinn, plus Shuler Hensley as Hill's good-natured henchman, who even needs a movie-star leading man?) And arguably even better is the ensemble of teen and kid singers and dancers enlisted as the children of River City, especially the winsome Benjamin Pajak as young Winthrop and the fleet-footed Gino Cosculluela as the misunderstood ruffian Tommy Djilas, both in their Broadway debuts.

David Finkle, New York Stage Review: There's no denying that Jackman throws himself into the dancing Carlyle has him do with Foster and the large chorus of dancers, featuring the athletic Gino Cosculluela. Jackman's even learned to tap dance and merrily shows off the newly acquired skill in the breathtaking final number. Yet, it remains that his Harold Hill could use some of the fire he lit in The Boy From Oz and has repeatedly spread as Wolverine.

Naveen Kumar, New York Theatre Guide: Whether you'll pony up for the ride (which ain't cheap) and gladly tap your feet may depend on how liable you are to be convinced. Are there soothing and satisfying pleasures in familiarity, high voltage, and expert execution? By golly, yes. Will this Music Man's sweet nothings reveal anything previously unknown about the nature of life, love, or the pursuit of happiness right here in 2022? Egads! No.

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