This review of The Music Man at The I.C.C. Theater In Douglaston was written by Dr. Thomas Robert Stevens and published in Volume X, Issue 5 (2015) of the online edition of Applause! Applause!
The Music Man
The Music Man
Book, Music & Lyrics by Meredith Willson
Richard Masin as Prof. Harry Hill
Monica Barczak as Marian Paroo
Director: Andrew Joseph Koslosky
Musical Director: Patrick White
Choreographers: Richard Masin & Dan Stravino
The I.C.C. Theater In Douglaston
72-00 Douglaston Parkway
Douglaston, New York 11362
Reviewed 8/1/15 at 8:00 p.m.
The Music Man opened on December 19, 1957 at the Majestic Theatre, where it remained for nearly three years before transferring to The Broadway Theatre to complete its 1,375-performance Broadway run on April 15, 1961. In 1958, it won a number of Tony Awards including Best Musical in the same year West Side Story was nominated for the award. When on Broadway, Robert Preston, Eddie Albert, and Bert Parks, respectively, each played Prof. Harry Hill, the con man and traveling salesman who falls in love with Marian Paroo, the town librarian and part-time piano teacher. The first United Kingdom production opened at Bristol Hippodrome, followed by London's West End at the Adelphi Theatre on March 16, 1961 starring Van Johnson as Hill. After eight previews, the first Broadway revival opened on June 5, 1980, at the New York City Center, where it ran for only 21 performances with Dick Van Dyke cast as Prof. Harry Hill. The second Broadway revival opened on April 27, 2000 at the Neil Simon Theatre where it ran for 699 performances and 22 previews with Craig Bierko (making his Broadway debut), in the lead role. The 1962 film adaptation of the musical starred Robert Preston as Prof. Harry Hill, and Shirley Jones as Marian Paroo. The 2003 television movie starred Matthew Broderick as Harry and Kristin Chenoweth as Marian.
The plot of this musical concerns Prof. Harry Hill (an alias; his real name is Gregory), who poses as a boys' band organizer and leader in order to sell instruments, detailed instruction booklets, and uniforms to the simple folk living in the fictitious town of River City, Iowa in the early summer of 1912. Harry has no knowledge of music and after selling the townsfolk these items, he intends to skip town with the profit he made and perhaps a little extra "commission" of $300.00 for uniforms he never intends to put the order in for. He attempts to befriend Marian Paroo, the librarian and part-time music teacher because she is the person most likely to expose him. He also discovers an old friend, Marcellus Washburn, living in the town but despite "going straight," he still helps Hill with his con. He also hires Tommy Djilas, a local ruffian and outsider, as an assistant, while Charles Cowell, a rival salesman (an anvil salesman who called the locals "gullible green-grass goats"), is intent on exposing him because after Hill visits a town, he ruins the atmosphere for other salesmen. Cowell is also convinced Hill "doesn't know the territory." In the end, Prof. Harry Hill and Marian Paroo fall in love and Hill is sort of compelled to fulfill his promise to lead the local band.
This production of The Music Man is the finest I have ever seen in a community theatre venue and Richard Masin, who played Prof. Harry Hill, has more talent and ability than 95% of the actors working in Broadway and Off-Broadway shows today. He is an exceptional, first-class, superior performer with an excellent voice and a charismatic stage presence. He embodied Prof. Harry Hill and nailed the role handling it better and more realistically than anyone else who has ever played it. Richard Masin is a rising star! He could easily lead a third Broadway revival of this musical and make it a hit. Monica Barczak, who played Marian Paroo, was perhaps a bit too matronly to be believable as someone Hill would fall in love with, but then again, the reason given for why Marian fell in love with Harry (he helped her brother overcome his shyness), despite knowing he is a con man, is also very hard to swallow. Ms. Barczak has the voice of an angel and it was a pleasure to listen to her sing. With nearly forty high-quality performers participating in this Broadway Blockbusters show, it is hard to pick out who put in that little extra in order to stand out. Besides the two lead actors already mentioned, my favorites were Erik Neilssen as Charlie Cowell, Dan Stravino as Marcellus Washburn, Kiera Liantonio as Mrs. Paroo, Mark Lord as Mayor Shin, and Rosario Amico as Tommy Djilas. Each brought their characters to life and significantly contributed to making this show the smashing success it was. However, that is not to say the other actors didn't make a significant contribution. They did, and many of them have that special spark that will enable them to have a well-respected career in the theatre.
Many of you will be familiar with the songs featured in this musical. such as "Rock Island," "(Ya Got) Trouble," "Seventy-Six Trombones," "Pickalittle (Talk-a-Little)," "My White Knight," "The Wells Fargo Wagon," "Shipoopi," and "Till There Was You." There was also a five-piece live band under the musical direction of Patrick White. I definitely recommend you go out and buy the CD. One message in this musical is that you should take a chance and do your best to achieve your dreams. If you always put things off to another day, you will find that life may have passed you by, or as Prof. Harry Hill told Marian, "If you pile up enough tomorrows, you'll find you've collected a whole lot of empty yesterdays."
This production of The Music Man was performed as a benefit for The Josephine Foundation, a 501(c)(3) charity that raises money and distributes 100% of the funds to its mission to support special individuals and programs, with no regard to race, color, creed, gender, age or financial status, by giving children and adults a chance to achieve their goals in life by providing opportunities in the arts and sports. Andrew Joseph Koslosky, the Director of this musical, is also the Founder and Chairman of the Board of The Josephine Foundation, which uses its performing arts projects to raise funds to provide support for medical, quality of life and disaster relief throughout the world. The Foundation has been responsible for well over $2.5 million in aid to areas within its mission statement since its inception in 2002. For more information about The Josephine Foundation, or to make a contribution, visit www.TheJosephineFoundation.org