The Music Man: October 1983
Book, Music and Lyrics by Meredith Willson
THERE is nothing more disarming than the gentle form of flattery that suggests our children have some unsuspected artistic talent. It is this flattery which Harold Hill (a virile baritone) employs; so cleverly that his confidence trick of posing as a Professor of Music claiming to teach boys how to play military band instruments over-night, succeeds in town after town to which he plays ” flying visits “-until he tries it in River City, Iowa. There, after initially impressing upon all but a few die-hards, the need to give young people the sort of interests-like forming a Town Band, for instance!-that will keep them ” off the streets his all too expedient theories begin to be suspect, especially by Marian Paroo (soprano), the local librarian and music teacher. Because Harold falls in love with her he fails to make his usual escape by train in time to avoid confrontation with the town officials who have been ” tipped off ” about him by a rival salesman. A demonstration is demanded of the efficacy of Harold Hill’s teaching methods from the Band he has formed, and although their rendering of Beethoven’s ” Minuet in G ” leaves much to be desired, the performance arouses such enthusiasm among the wishful thinking parents that he is completely exonerated.
The best known song is undoubtedly the stirring SEVENTY-SIX TROMBONES, sung by Harold as he paints the vision of a boys’ Town Band resplendent with the instruments and uniforms he has persuaded their mothers and fathers to buy. Other songs are GOOD-NIGHT MY SOMEONE and TILL THERE WAS YOU. A male quartet of School Governors, oddly-sized, can be used to comic effect, as whenever they press the ” Professor ” for his credentials, he sets them off warbling memorable old-fashioned songs, and thereby avoids a ” show-down.” The plentiful chorus work frequently demands rapid and precise articulation as in PICK-A-LITTLE, TALK-A-LITTLE for the ladies of River City, and the wonderfully effective opening number, ROCK ISLAND, for the salesmen, delivered in rail-road speech-rhythm as they journey to their destinations.
Produced by Frank Doran