Review submitted by Samuel Intrater of Albert Einstein High School.
You really gotta give Wootton a try! This charming production of “The Music Man” from Thomas S. Wootton High School captured the quirky, unforgettable character of Meredith Willson’s classic.
Meredith Willson based the tale of self-proclaimed Professor Harold Hill on his own hometown of Mason City, Iowa when writing the music, lyrics, and book (alongside his friend Franklin Lacey). The plot revolves around a con man coming to quiet old River City to scam the residents into putting together a young boy’s band but unexpectedly finds love along the way. The musical opened in 1958 to huge success, winning 5 Tony Awards, including Best Leading Actor in a Musical and Best Musical (beating out West Side Story). Film adaptations include the iconic 1962 film starring Robert Preston and a 2003 TV-movie with Matthew Broederick
Thanks to the efforts of the unbelievable Wootton Pit Orchestra, the well-balanced ensemble, and lovely solos, the show sounded superb. Mic cut-outs at the beginning were quickly fixed and allowed the audience to enjoy timeless show tunes like “Pick-a-little (Talk-a-little)”, “Seventy-Six Trombones”, and “Shipoopi”.
The show’s central romance between Harold Hill and Marian “The Librarian” Paroo was developed delicately and fabulously by a very likable duo of Max Ramsay and Taylor Litofsky. Both had pleasant vocals and winning chemistry as they slowly tore down each other’s barriers to find the gentle center hidden inside each character.
Rachel Kerschenbaum portrayed Marian’s Irish mother Mrs. Paroo with vigor, while the stuck-up couple of Mayor Shinn (Zack Cassidy) and Eulalie Mackecknie Shinn (Hannah Bruckheim) provided several of the best laughs of the night. Other notable show-stealers include the Barbershop Quartet (Ameya Deshmukh, Aidan Wilbur, Tejas Iyer, Matthew Sachs) and the young lovers Tommy and Zaneeta (Sean Klein and Alyssa Herman).
Perhaps the most fun the audience had throughout the night was when the young children of River City got their time to shine. The kids themselves were, of course, adorable, but much credit is due to the cast and crew of Wootton High School for keeping the potential chaos down to a minimum ensuring that their presence in the show was organized and tight as an ensemble.
From a technical standpoint, set pieces were simple but classy, as River City should be. There are several different buildings and locations that the characters must travel to within the town, and scene transitions were remarkably fast whenever one of these big shifts came into play. The lack of age make-up made it somewhat difficult to distinguish between which characters were supposed to be young adults and which were supposed to be older, but otherwise, everyone on stage looked well made-up, well lit, and well costumed.
Thomas S. Wootton’s “The Music Man” was carefully crafted and well-composed. With the trend of Broadway nowadays being to cover heavy subject matter and tell grand stories, productions like these are cathartic reminders of the golden age of musical theatre.
The performance reviewed was from Saturday, 4/14/2018.
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