Come Follow The Band
By R. J. Donovan
Despite a swirl of questions about it's non-Equity status, "The Music Man" proudly marched into town last night and showed itself to be a smart, good looking, sharply presented production overflowing with great voices, eager faces and agile feet.
When non-Equity productions have come to town in the past, more often than not they have been threadbare and thrown together with an eye to get in, get out and move on before word spreads too far that the goods weren't all that good.
Nothing could be further from the truth with "The Music Man," at The Colonial Theatre, through May 11. Led by a tall, lithe and personable Gerritt Vandermeer as Professor Harold Hill, the cast is top-notch. Carolann M. Sanita sings like an a classically trained angel as Marian The Librarian.
Corey Elias is great fun as Eulalie Shinn, wife of River City’s Mayor (Albert Parker). Pam Feicht is Marian's mother, Mrs. Paroo and Joshua Siegel is a freshly scrubbed, shy and lisping Winthrop Paroo who gets to preen in the spotlight during his solo, "Gary Indiana." And Catherine Denison Blades is a spitfire to watch out for in the small role of Amaryllis.
Set in 1912, "Music Man" is Meredith Wilson's old-fashioned, warm hearted look at small-town, middle America. Traveling salesman (and con artist) Harold Hill enters to try and sell the locals on forming a band for boys.
He has no intention of following through on his mission, however, because he's not really a musician. He just wants to sell his instruments, play the situation for all its worth and then move on to the next town before the band actually has to perform. He locks horns, then hearts, with the local librarian, and a happy ending results.
Just about every song in the song is well known. "Seventy-Six Trombones," "Trouble," "Till There Was You," "Lida Rose," Goodnight My Someone," "The Wells Fargo Wagon" and all the rest are met with warm recognition by the audience.
Director Ray Roderick has faithfully recreated Susan Stromann's original award winning work and the cast genuinely looks like they're delighted to be a part of it -- whether they're dancing around the high school gymnasium or parading through the town square.
With the exception of a couple of minor sound problems, which can happen in any production, Equity or not, the show is winner. J. Branson's sets bring color to River City, complemented by Tom Reiter's lighting.
The evening is nicely capped with the entire company returning to the stage in glistening band uniforms, post curtain call, to actually play their instruments in a delightful recap of "Seventy-Six Trombones."
By this time they could do no wrong -- and trouble was the last thing on anybody's mind.
Meredith Wilson's “The Music Man” is at The Colonial Theatre, 106 Tremont Street in Boston, through May 11. For information, call 617-931-2787.
-- OnStage Boston
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