Cedarville University presents Meredith Willson’s classic 1957 Tony Award-winning musical comedy “The Music Man” beginning Thursday, Feb. 2 in the DeVries Theatre of the Stevens Student Center.
Willson’s marvelously melodic slice of Americana is set in River City, Iowa, in 1912. The funny, tender story revolves around charming con artist Harold Hill, a traveling salesman energetically boosting morale with the promise to create a boy’s band while simultaneously wooing prickly librarian Marian Paroo. As Hill changes Marian’s outlook on life, River City undergoes a delightful transformation of its own.
“To me, the most inspiring truth about ‘The Music Man’ is the gift of being able to change,” said director Rebecca Baker, whose previous directorial credits include “Little Women” and “Father of the Bride.”
“In one amazing summer the people of River City trade bickering and gossip for singing, laughing and dancing. A community coming together represents big change. With Harold’s encouragement, Winthrop lets go of his shyness and finds that he can express himself. Marian discovers real love unexpectedly beyond the White Knight of her dreams while seeing things in Harold he doesn’t yet see in himself, particularly as a positive spirit that brings River City back to life. And Harold is jolted by the realization that personal commitment matters more than collecting on his salesmanship skills. We see him transformed to a man who chooses to answer a child honestly, declare genuine love, and accept responsibility rather than running,” she said.
“This isn’t a fairy tale. It’s realizing that actions have consequences.”
Willson, a Mason City, Iowa, native known for writing the iconic holiday tune “It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas,” created a dynamic score including such gems as “Seventy-Six Trombones,” “Trouble,” “Goodnight, My Someone,” “The Wells Fargo Wagon,” “Gary, Indiana,” and “‘Til There Was You.” Baker finds the relatability of the score a great plus in order to understand the nature of the characters, especially considering many were inspired by his own life.
“Meredith Willson really connected with America and American music,” she said. “But I don’t believe he’s saying the world he created is such a simplified way of life that you’re not able to deal with important things that are going on. I think he’s helping us get back to our roots, giving us strength in the things we connect with. This show is so much fun and continues to remind us of the importance of community. We really make a difference in the people we interact with depending on our perspective.”
The principal cast includes Robbie Lindmark as Harold Hill, Rachel Joy Rowland as Marian Paroo, Heather Lange as Mrs. Paroo, Jonathan Kimble as Winthrop Paroo, Stephen De Jong as Mayor Shinn, Katie Gilbert as Eulalie Mackecknie Shinn, Remy James Patterson as Marcellus Washburn, Josie Grooms as Ethel Toffelmier, Connor Tomlin as Zanetta Shinn, William Tomlinson as Tommy Djilas, Nathan Robertson as Charlie Cowell, Ellianna Ferguson as Amaryllis, Kristin Klimek as Gracie Shinn, Andrew Standley, Jeremy Smith, Stephen Gayer, and Josh Graham as The Quartet, and Natalie Reid, Bethany Johnson, Kaleigh Kenney, and Michaela Wade as The Pick-a-Little Ladies.
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