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Stratford Festival Performances Begin with First Preview of MUSIC MAN


Stratford Festival Performances Begin with First Preview of MUSIC MAN

The Stratford Festival's 66th season is off to an exhilarating start with Meredith Willson's Tony Award-winning musical comedy The Music Man. Previews begin today at the Festival Theatre, marking the first performance of the season.

The Music Man follows a charming but fraudulent salesman who arrives in River City, Iowa, to work his usual scam - only to find that a bill of goods can be the real deal. Directed and choreographed by Donna Feore, the production features a colossal cast of 40 performers, showcasing Ms Feore's original choreography in spectacular dance numbers, and a live 19-piece orchestra, led by Music Director Franklin Brasz, playing such hits as "Shipoopi," "Till There Was You" and the show-stopping "Seventy-Six Trombones."

"This musical has so many beautiful elements," says Artistic Director Antoni Cimolino. "Donna has made it a massive dance show, which injects an infectious vibrancy throughout, but with an irresistible love story at its heart - and not just for the main characters, but for the whole River City community whose hearts are opened by the power of music. It's an enduring master work, perfect for the entire family, and just itching to be shared with the next generation."

"The term classic is often used to describe shows that have been around for a while and have enjoyed successful runs on stages from Broadway to high school gyms," says Ms Feore. "Something about these shows keeps drawing us back again and again. In the case of The Music Man, it's one thing. One voice. Meredith Willson's voice.

"Willson puts real people and real love before us, imperfections intact. Harold Hill is a con man, a liar. And yet Willson allows Marian Paroo, the show's moral compass, to fall for him - but with her eyes open. Harold may attack with his massive charm and may have won over the whole of River City, but he doesn't fool Marian for a minute. Marian doesn't need anyone. When and if she chooses, she will choose wisely. And Harold, the agent of change, will in his turn be changed. And, all in the end, for the better."

Daren A. Herbert and Danielle Wade, both making their Stratford debut, play Harold Hill and Marian Paroo. Mr. Herbert is a stage and screen star, appearing in such Hollywood blockbusters as This Means War and Dreamgirls. Ms Wade is well-remembered as the winner of CBC's Over the Rainbow, a reality show to find Dorothy in Andrew Lloyd Webber's The Wizard of Oz.

They are joined by Denise Oucharek as Mrs. Paroo, Steve Ross as Mayor Shinn, Mark Uhre as Marcellus Washburn and Blythe Wilson as Eulalie MacKecknie Shinn.

The creative team includes Set Designer Michael Gianfrancesco, Costume Designer Dana Osborne, Lighting Designer Michael Walton, Sound DesignerPeter McBoyle and Fight Director John Stead.

The Music Man features book, music and lyrics by Meredith Willson, and story by Meredith Willson and Franklin Lacey.

The Music Man officially opens on May 29 and runs until November 3.

Go inside rehearsals below:

Production support is generously provided by Mary Ann & Robert Gorlin, by the Harkins & Manning families in memory of Jim & Susan Harkins, and by Riki Turofsky & Charles Petersen.

The Music Man is co-sponsored by Union Gas and RBC Royal Bank.

Support for the 2018 season of the Festival Theatre is generously provided by Daniel Bernstein and Claire Foerster.

Photo Credit: Clay Stang

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