BWW Review: THE MUSIC MAN at The Wick Theatre And Costume Museum
The Wick Theatre and Costume Museum recently opened its much-anticipated The Music Man. This show, like their previous productions of Annie, Mame and The Sound of Music, can be seen as a wholesome, classic musical that the whole family can enjoy. With superb performances, high-energy choreography and well-crafted costumes (this is a Wick Theatre production after all), The Music Man just might be the show to see this holiday season.
With book, music and lyrics by Meredith Wilson, The Music Man first opened at Broadway's Majestic Theatre on December 19, 1957, where it would win six Tony Awards, including Best Musical. The show was previously revived in 1980 and 2000 (under the direction of Susan Stroman), and is set for another Broadway revival in the fall of 2020 that will star Hugh Jackman and Sutton Foster.
The Music Man follows Professor Harold Hill, a traveling salesman, as he attempts to swindle the denizens of River City, Iowa by selling them instruments and uniforms to form a boys band-despite his lack of musical knowledge. Before he attempts to skip town, he becomes smitten with Marian Paroo, the town librarian and music teacher.
The Wick Theatre is well-known for casting celebrities (Broadway or otherwise) to star in their shows. Previous star vehicle performances include Leslie Uggams in Mame, Lee Roy Reams in La Cage aux Folles and Hello, Dolly!, Andrea McArdle in They're Playing Our Song, and Sally Struthers in Annie.
The Wick continues this tradition by placing Tony-nominee John Tartaglia (Avenue Q, Beauty and the Beast) in the role of Harold Hill. While this casting choice may be questionable for some, audiences can no-doubt enjoy Tartaglia's stage presence. He also excels when performing Harold Hill's famous patter song, "Ya Got Trouble," speak-singing with clear diction.
South Florida veteran Julie Kleiner, who appeared in the movie CAMP and on the national tour of Big The Musical, plays Marian Paroo. As a vocalist, Kleiner showcases her clean and pure soprano, with excellent phrasing, vocal control, and consistent vibrato. As an actress, Kleiner creates a layered performance. While she appears strong-willed and hardened on the outside, Kleiner gives Marian's character a sweet marshmallow center. She and Tartaglia share several tender moments during numbers like "Till There Was You" and the reprise of "76 Trombones/Goodnight My Someone."
Wesley Slade, who recently played the title role in Slow Burn Theatre Company's production of Shrek The Musical, takes on the role of Marcellus Washburn, a former salesman and close confidant of Harold Hill. Slade gives Marcellus a high-pitched voice and a lively demeanor. His chemistry with Tartaglia is evident throughout the night, creating a relationship that is almost identical to that of Captain Hook and Mr. Smee in Peter Pan. Slade's song-and-dance talents are well-showcased as he leads the company in the rousing Act II opener, "Shipoopi."
Other standout performances from the principal cast include Ellie Pattison as Mrs. Paroo, Neo Del Corral as Winthrop Paroo, and Angie Radosh as Eulalie MacKecknie Shinn. Pattison delivers a sassy portrayal of Marian's mother, complete with an Irish brogue. Though young and short in stature, Del Corral carries himself tall in his first role at the Wick. Del Corral's solos in "The Wells Fargo Wagon" and "Gary, Indiana" always end with thunderous applause due to his cute and honest charm. Radosh delivers the funniest performance of the evening as Eulalie McKecknie Shinn. Whether she is performing a misappropriation of Native American customs or leading the River City Ladies in a Grecian Urn dance, Radosh provides ample comic relief.
This production of The Music Man features the largest cast in The Wick Theatre's seven seven years of operation, including a talented ensemble of children and adults. Several memorable ensemble performances include sharp dance segments from Austin Carroll and Mitchell Burns, and of course the barbershop stylings from River City's four school board members (played by David Nagy, Mark Parello, Ricky Pope and James A. Skiba).
Director Norb Joreder and choreographer David Wanstreet pay homage to some of the staging and choreography featured in productions past. Joreder stages The Music Man with the level of hamminess and presentational acting commonly associated with musical comedies of its era. Wanstreet's choreography utilizes familiar dance segments from the original Broadway production (and subsequent film adaptation). Some of the best-executed numbers of the night included "76 Trombones" and "Marian The Librarian." Music director Paul Tine should be praised for helping the show's ensemble develop a well-blended sound. Despite this, there were moments where principal and ensemble singers could not sing in time with the pre-recorded tracks used in lieu of a live orchestra.
Scenic designer Nicholas Doyle and Projection Designer Josieu Jean attempt to balance the show's old-fashioned stagecraft with modern technology. Some of Doyle's traditional scenic elements could be seen as plain and two-dimensional, relying on Jean's projection designs for aesthetic appeal. There were scenes where Doyle and Jean's designs worked in harmony, such as the Madison Library and the footbridge. However there were also moments where projectors malfunctioned mid-scene.
Since this is a Wick Theatre production, one would expect high-quality costumes curated by Costume World (owned by the theatre's executive producer, Marilyn Wick). The costumes in this production of The Music Man did not disappoint. Men are seen wearing wicker summer hats and pinstriped suits, while women are seen sporting summery dresses complete with embroidered trim. Even the ornate shoes fit the show's time period of 1912.
The Wick has taken some enormous risks in the areas of performance and design when staging The Music Man. While there were some minor technical glitches on opening night, this production will continue to grow as it completes its run which was just extended to December 28.