“The Music Man” is not only a beloved Broadway classic, but also has imprinted in our minds 4 signature characters from which succeeding actors are yardsticked. I speak of Robert Preston as Hill, Shirley Jones, Marian; Ron Howard, Winthrop and Paul Ford, Mayor Shinn.
The Walnut Street's “Music Man” succeeds in eliminating the “almost as good as” or 'not quite so and so”. This is as joyous and lovingly staged and acted a musical as you will ever witness. Smiles were plastered on the audience throughout. One felt privileged being in attendance. A classic show in a classic theatre (America's oldest - in its 204th season!) served up with the highest quality talent and production values.
If a child actor is good, well, you've heard the rubric about following kids and animals. Vincent Crocilla plays Winthrop, the insecure little stutterer who falls under the spell of the consummate showman, Harold Hill, suitor to his big sister Marian. This precious child is TOO cute. When he struts the tune “Gary Indiana” (resembling Psy's Gangman dance), the house exploded. There were tears coursing down cheeks on a number of faces, male and female.
Jeffrey Coon (Hill) has a gorgeous voice. One must be a triple threat to do this part and he does not miss a step in Director/Choreographer Marc Robin's exhilarating production numbers. Robin's background must be in ballet, for there was much more of that than the normal jazz dance of past productions Aisle Say has witnessed.
Jennifer Hope Wills (Marian) starred for four years on Broadway as Christine in “Phantom”. Enough said regarding her transcendent voice! The ingenue merely changes addresses – from Paris to River City Iowa.
Set design at The Walnut has always been a strength. In the review of last season's “The King and I”, I mentioned the romance, glamor and power of Robert Andrew Kovach's set. River City is a long way from Siam's monarchical palace, but the fine art created by Kovach make the trees appear three dimensional. Quite a feat. It's like you are seeing a two dimensional set in Imax.
With the largest subscriber base of any theatre in America, The Walnut has a budget to do things to near perfection. Costume designer Colleen Grady fulfills her mission in capturing middle America in brilliant hues. As far as attention to detail....look at the shoes, the bonnets, the dresses of those pictured.
Tickets to this production would make thoughtful pre-Christmas presents. Thoughtful? Most certainly. It means you care enough about the recipient to wish she/he and theirs to glory in one of the two forms of music created in America...jazz and MUSICAL THEATRE. I doubt your friends will ever forget this show...this pastiche of Americana...as close to perfection as one could achieve.
Through January 6. Walnutstreettheatre.org 800.982.2787