Chanhassen Dinner Theatres Presents THE MUSIC MAN
It's undoubtedly the most appealing Iowa "corn" ever served - fresh, warm and wrapped in the sweet nostalgia of small-town America. Chanhassen Dinner Theatres (CDT) brings its audiences Meredith Willson's THE MUSIC MAN. a colorful, musical comedy that's all-American as apple pie and a beloved classic for every generation. THE MUSIC MAN opens to a week of previews on February 28 and celebrates its official opening on Friday, March 6, 2020.
Frequently requested by CDT audiences, THE MUSIC MAN last played on the Main Stage eighteen years ago. In addition, this is the 5th time the THE MUSIC MAN has been produced in CDT's 52-year history, and it ties the previous record of the #1 audience favorite, Fiddler on the Roof.
Born in 1902, Meredith Willson left Iowa at age 16 to study at Juilliard in New York, and later became a prosperous, world-class musician long before creating THE MUSIC MAN. Despite his world travels, Willson always remained an Iowan at heart. His friends joked that being a composer, conductor, radio and television performer was just a sideline for Willson and that his real job was being a press agent for the Hawkeye State. THE MUSIC MAN, written by Willson in the 1940s, was years in the making (documentation stated it took over six years). During that time Willson was indulging in his favorite pastime: reminiscing about his boyhood in Mason City. His labor of love has become one of the most outstanding musicals of the American stage. A tribute to his hometown of Mason City, Iowa, set in 1912, his characters were taken from actual people he grew up to know and love. Willson was quoted, "I didn't have to make anything up; I just remembered Mason City as closely as I could." Willson's wife frequently suggested he write a musical comedy about life in Iowa. He didn't really take the suggestion seriously until composer and friend Frank Loesser (Guys and Dolls) encouraged him with the same idea. And so it began.
After years of writing and rewriting, THE MUSIC MAN opened on Broadway on December 19, 1957. It captured the innocence, humor and wonderful simplicity of Midwestern life in 1912. That year it won the Tony Award for Best Musical and received the very first Grammy Award ever presented, for Best Broadway Original Cast Album.
A creative genius, Willson is one of a few to write not only the music but also the lyrics and the entire script of a major musical. THE MUSIC MAN is best known for its rousing signature tune, "Seventy-Six Trombones." But the score is loaded with other musical hits including "Rock Island," "Ya Got Trouble," "Goodnight, My Someone," "The Wells Fargo Wagon" "Pick-a-Little, Talk-a Little" and "Till There Was You."
THE MUSIC MAN is about a charming con artist who gets off the train at River City intending to work one of his swindles. Although he can't read a single note of music, "Professor" Harold Hill razzle-dazzles the stern Iowans and fraudulently charms the money-out-of-the-mattresses of River City, supposedly to form a town band at their expense. He plans to collect the money for the instruments and uniforms and skip town. Hill is always one step ahead of the suspicious mayor and finds himself drawn to Marian, the pretty, yet self-assured town librarian. While his motives are dishonest, he ends up transforming the dull little town into a colorful, singing, dancing and hopeful community, and finds himself changed as well.
Resident Artistic Director Michael Brindisi sees Hill not only as a con-man, but also as a sort of magic man, a person who makes things happen in the sleepy town, bringing it to life. "Ultimately, what the con artist is selling is hope and belief. Hill gets his foot caught in the door when he realizes he's falling for Marian. As the people in River City are transforming, so is he. And so it can also be for us. There is always hope and belief for a new and better life, for a better tomorrow. And we can never give up that hope that lives in all of us."
Brindisi leads a stellar cast and production team, which includes Tamara Kangas Erickson (choreographer), Andy Kust (music director), Nayna Ramey (scenic design), Rich Hamson (costume design), Sue Ellen Berger (lighting design), Russ Haynes (sound design), Paul Bigot (wig/makeup design); Dan Foss (production stage manager), and John Trow (assistant stage manager). (Cast list on next page.)
Chanhassen Dinner Theatres is the last professional regional theatre to be granted rights to produce the show prior to its major Broadway revival starring Hugh Jackman and Sutton Foster opening in October. Chanhassen Dinner Theatres production of THE MUSIC MAN will run through September 5, 2020. It will be performed eight times weekly with evening performances Tuesdays through Sundays, and matinees on Wednesdays and Saturdays. Dinner and show ticket prices: Tuesday, Wednesday, & Thursday evenings $78; Friday $93; Saturday evening $93; Wednesday matinees $68 and Saturday matinees $75; Sunday $88. Groups of 12 or more are eligible to receive special discounts. For reservations and information, call the CDT box office at 952-934-1525 or visit ChanhassenDT.com