BWW Review: THE MUSIC MAN at Derby Dinner Playhouse
The company of The Music Man. Photo courtesy Derby Dinner Playhouse.
The Music Man
by Meredith Wilson
Directed by Lee Buckholz
Review by Taylor Clemons
Entire contents copyright © 2017 Taylor Clemons. All rights reserved.
MerEdith Wilson's The Music Man has stormed the Derby Dinner stage in a very enjoyable production. The story feels like it's been around forever. Opening on Broadway originally in 1957 (starring the recently departed Barbara Cook as Marian), it spawned two subsequent film adaptations, and a Broadway revival in 2000. There's no doubting that it is indeed one of the best examples of classic musical theatre. At the core, there is a love story. That central theme is why I think it has managed to stand the test of time.
The story centers around Professor Harold Hill (Tyler Bliss), a con man. He sets his sights on the small community of River City, Iowa. His plan is to sell the town on the idea that they need a youth marching band, and he's right there to sell the unsuspecting people everything that they need with the promise that he will be the one to lead it. However, the local Librarian and piano teacher, Marian Paroo (Sara King) immediately senses something is amiss. Harold Hill is weary of her as well, and spends the duration of the show trying to win her affection. Throughout the show we meet several crazy and zany characters who are River City locals, including Mayor Shinn and his wife Eulalie (John Payonk and Elizabeth Loos respectively).
Performances were very traditional to The Music Man that we all know. While watching, I couldn't help but wish they would've taken more risks. Everything to me was very rote and simplistic, which is, I'll admit, what The Music Man tends to be. The standout for me was quite easily Sara King as the hardened "old maid" Marian Paroo. She sang the score with ease and grace, while bringing a particular bit of whimsy to her book scenes. Honorable mention must be paid to Elizabeth Loos as Eulalie Shinn. The role itself is written to be a scene stealer, and Loos sells it for everything it's worth, gaining laughs in almost every minute of stage time. Tyler Bliss as Harold Hill did very well. He's certainly full of charisma, but I don't feel he ever truly embodied our eager protagonist. He has a very nice voice and leads group numbers with gusto.
Direction by Lee Buckholz was good. Nothing too out of the box, but again, what you would expect for this show. The choreography by Megan Bliss was absolutely stunning, the standouts being "Marian the Librarian" and "Shipoopi". The costumes were great, and the set transitioned with ease.
All in all, this is a faithful production of a Broadway classic. While it may not be everyone's cup of tea, it's certainly a crowd favorite. If you have never seen The Music Man live, then I'd say this would be a great place for your first time. If you have seen it and enjoy it, this production will easily meet your standards.
The Music Man
Now - August 20
Derby Dinner Playhouse
525 Marriott Drive
Clarksville, IN 47129