Written by Daniella Litvak
Set during the early twentieth century, The Music Man is about what happens when traveling salesman Harold Hill (Ray Buffer) comes to River City, Iowa. Harold is the titular character because he sells boys marching bands: the instruments, the uniforms, the lessons, and so on. He guarantees a marching band will keep River City happy and out of trouble. While most of the people fall under Harold’s spell and become wildly enthusiastic about a marching band, librarian/music teacher Marian Paroo (Mallory Staley) doubts the purity of Harold’s intentions. Still she cannot ignore the effect Harold is having on River City or her changing feelings towards the man himself.
This show falls on the fluff end of the musical spectrum. While I do not mind fluff, it does feel like The Music Man’s creators choose style over substance at the story’s expense. The first act runs too long. The last scene should have been more dramatic. The subplots are underdeveloped. Obstacles are too easily conquered, and I wish there was more suspense. Most of the characters are not given much characterization. While I support the ideas that Marian is the main character and the story is about River City rather than Harold, I wish Harold had either been given more backstory and nuance or had his mysteriousness played up beyond the opening number “Rock Island.” Also the reasoning for why Harold and Marian get together relies more on the plot requiring it rather than the romance being the natural consequence of their evolving feelings. I understand why Marian would like and protect Harold, but I’m not entirely convinced she would fall in love with him. However, I liked the moments between the two of them, and the show has a lot of nicely romantic songs such as “Goodnight, My Someone” and “Til There Was You.”
Overall, I enjoyed the show’s songs. I wish “(Ya Got) Trouble” had been a little more exuberant, but “Marian The Librarian” and “Shipoopi” are definitely clever and entertaining energy boosters. Aside from a few rough patches here and there, the singing is good, and the dancing is terrific.
The show features performers of all ages, which is awesome to see. For the most part I think the cast does a really good job. Mallory Staley is an excellent Marian. She plays Marian as tough but not shrewish while also being unafraid to let Marian be vulnerable and wistful.
If you are looking for a family show or want to cross The Music Man off your list of musicals to see, make a stop at the Mysterium Theater.
Sidenote: In honor of performing The Music Man, Mysterium Theater is collecting donations for the Mr. Holland’s Opus Foundation. If you donate an instrument you’ll receive a discount on your ticket.
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