State College Community Theatre to Stage 'The Music Man'
It takes a special show to really put the “community” in community theatre.
State College Community Theatre’s production of Meredith Wilson’s “The Music Man” does exactly that. From the opening scene where traveling salesmen commiserate about their marketing woes to the finale featuring an untrained crew of kids playing all the instruments of a marching band, this show highlights how much fun a town can have with a little bit of faith, forgiveness and imagination.
Director Martha Traverse feels that “a happy show makes a happy cast.” And her cast does have a ball with this upbeat, energizing show filled with hit tunes, amusing dialogue and an ironic plot.
Set in River City, Iowa in 1912, the show’s main character, Harold Hill, travels from town to town posing as a boy’s band director. His inability to read one note of music doesn’t really matter, because as soon as he collects the money he skips town. Until he arrives in River City.
“He usually just hops on a train and leaves,” says Matt Greer who plays Hill, “but this time he gets the opportunity to stick around and see what happens.”
Hill gets that chance because he falls in love with River City’s librarian, Marian Paroo, played by Ashley Moore. Coincidentally, Paroo also teaches piano and determines to expose Hill as a fraud. She lives with her widowed mother and younger, timid, lisping brother Winthrop. The little boy gets his hopes up about the boy’s band that Hill promises to organize, but his sister doesn’t believe a word of it.
“It’s so important to her that Winthrop be happy and healthy,” Moore explains, “you don’t mess with her family.”
But Hill manages to charm even the skeptical librarian. Her feelings toward him soften as he hopes they would. However, he never counts on her charming him. And this leads to his transformation.
At its core, The Music Man tells the story of a con artist’s redemption as Hill becomes drawn to the various town residents, and realizes that he just might care about people more than he cares about making a quick buck.
“First he tries to fleece them,” Traverse said. “Then he gets to know them personally and sees the error of his ways.”
The town folk undergo their own redemption as well. A gossipy gaggle of society women warm up to Paroo. The town ne’er-do-well sets himself to work assisting Hill. Little Winthrop begins to talk and smile.
“River City is a puzzle,” Greer said, “and Harold Hill and Marian have to figure out how to fit into it.”
Wilson’s score highlights the production’s charm. It includes timeless songs like Seventy-Six Trombones, Til There Was You, and Gary, Indiana. In his first work with SCCT, music director Ian Duh enjoys the challenge of a live orchestra and vocalists.
“I really like Music Man,” he said, “and when I heard they were doing it, I said ‘I want a piece of that action.’”
Always a crowd-pleasing, feel-good, energizing show, SCCT’s production will open Aug. 16 and will run two weekends, with shows at 8 p.m. Friday and 2 and 8 p.m. Saturday.
IF YOU GO
What: “The Music Man”
When: Aug. 16 (8 p.m.), 17 (2 and 8 p.m.), 23 (8 p.m.) and 24 (2 and 8 p.m.)
Where: Mount Nittany Middle School Auditorium
Tickets: At the door or call (814) 234-7228
Click HERE for more information and to buy tickets.