Supporting the Arts in Western Massachusetts and Beyond

November 16, 2013

The Music Man

St. Michael's Players, East Longmeadow, MA
through November 17, 2013
by Eric Sutter

St. Michael's Players is staging America's happiest musical in Meredith Willson's "The Music Man." From the onset, the audience is captivated by this gem of a show with enjoyable characters under the guidance of the very capable Frank Jackson.

This heart-warming story of a tricky traveling salesman and the love of a good woman has tremendous appeal. The show begins on a railway coach headed for River City, Iowa in 1912. The speech and song rhythms of the salesmen and train imitations are effective. Professor Harold Hill (Drew Gilbert) is the leading man with a half-spoken, half-sung delivery in song. A simple set of the center of River City becomes the backdrop for "Iowa Stubborn" by the townspeople. Salesman Harold warns the townies, however, with "(Ya Got) Trouble." Love interest and heroine Marian the Librarian (Stephanie Gilbert) sings a lovely and pensive "Goodnight My Someone." Marian's mom, Mrs. Paroo (Mary Anne Arnold) steals scenes with her brilliant Irish brogue and comedic timing.

There's the show-stopper, "Seventy-Six Trombones," led by Hill and helped along by many skilled child actors, featured exciting visuals of a star formation and baton twirl march down center aisle. One great melody followed another; i.e. the clucking of the towns-women's chatter in "Pick-a-Little" and Marion "My White Knight" in a beautiful soprano. The clincher love duet of "Til There Was You" is lovely. Proving that local talent is not hard to find, not only in the lead actors, but in all roles, is the charismatic barbershop quartet by resident luminaries singing "Lida Rose"

Kudos to choreographer Debra Vega for her creative talent -- action includes Irish capped boys in knee socks hop scotching with dolled up girls. Act II opener, "Shipoopi" is another highlight for Vega, as is Eulalie's ballet, "Rustle of Spring," seemingly dramatic, yet a real hoot.

Love is certainly in the air in River City and in East Longmeadow. Don't miss the brazen and brassy finale by the entire company.