Children’s theater group presents classic ‘Music Man’

Children’s Performing Arts of Miamisburg presents Meredith Willson’s timeless 1957 musical “The Music Man” beginning Saturday at the historic Baum Opera House.

Co-directed by Francis and Angie Boyle, a Liberty Twp.-based team who notably co-directed “Troilus and Cressida” for Michigan’s Pigeon Creek Shakespeare Company, Willson’s tuneful, touching slice of Americana is set in River City, Iowa circa 1912. The familiar story concerns charming con artist Harold Hill, who boosts morale with the promise to create a boy’s band while simultaneously wooing librarian Marian Paroo. Hill’s engaging shenanigans are accented by some of the most splendid songs in the musical theater canon including “Seventy-Six Trombones,” “Trouble,” “Goodnight, My Someone,” “The Wells Fargo Wagon,” “My White Knight,” “Gary, Indiana” and “‘Til There Was You.”

“Harold is a con artist but he has a great heart which resonates throughout the show,” said Francis. “It’s not the lies he tells so much as the fantasy he spins for everyone around him. It’s such an amazing story.”

“‘The Music Man’ has always been one of my favorites since I was a kid,” added Angie. “The show is accused of being corny but it’s only corny if you’re a cynic. It has so much beauty, hope and joy. It’s hard to watch the show and not feel uplifted by it. Meredith Willson wrote this musical as a love letter to his upbringing in Mason City, Iowa, and we want to bring that same spirit to Miamisburg. We believe in our kids. They have met and exceeded our expectations.”

The 32-member cast, a conglomeration of fourth through 12th-grade students across Dayton and Southwest Ohio, will be led by Jacob Siemens, a senior at Miami Valley Academies who has appeared in four CPAM productions. He particularly admires Hill’s ability to connect with humor and depth.

“There is so much more to Harold beyond the surface, beyond his persistence,” said Siemens. “The way he conveys his emotions is very special. He has a unique quality about him that is so funny and rich. He’s a phenomenal character.”

The principal cast includes Kaleigh Whitehill as Marian Paroo, Emma Fleming as Mrs. Paroo, Brooke McDonald as Marcellus Washburn, Nick Plummer as Mayor Shinn, Mikayla Lewallen as Eulalie Mackecknie Shinn, Owen Elson as Charlie Cowell, Jacob Boyd as Winthrop Paroo, and Bethany Searce as Amaryllis. Korey Benjamin Worthington supplies choreography. Sets are designed by Chris Newman, whose exceptional, colorful work this season was particularly evident in the Dayton Playhouse productions of “Hairspray” and “Fellow Passengers.”

CPAM continues to evolve as it seeks to promote the performing arts through performance, practice and education. In January the troupe hosted a Q&A session featuring Broadway veteran Stanley Wayne Mathis (“You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown,” “Kiss Me, Kate,” “Nice Work If You Can Get It,” “The Book of Mormon”). Dayton Contemporary Dance Company artist Sheri “Sparkle” Williams is slated to participate in a Q&A next month.

“CPAM is a place where kids are passionate about the arts,” said Francis. “It’s a real hidden gem and a wonderful outlet for the kids. There’s a point in everyone’s life where they’re told to act their age which can honestly be one of the greatest inhibitors of creativity. Adults have to fight against years of conditioning that says being outgoing is weird. So, encouraging children to use their imagination can be liberating.”

“CPAM is a family,” added Siemens. “It’s like my second home. I love the environment and everyone treats each other with love. Acting provides wonderful emotions, joy and sadness. I really hope the audience enjoys ‘Music Man’ and has an amazing time.”

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