Charlie's In The House: Music Theatre West's 'The Music Man'
You have to see Music Theatre West’s ongoing production of The Music Man. I was blown away by the show. It’s marvelous. Not “marvelous” for an amateur production. Not “marvelous” for community theater. Forget all those qualifiers. The Music Man is marvelous. Period.
Oh, I could probably come up with something uncomplimentary to say about the show … but it would be a lie. There isn’t a false note in the entire production. Not with the music, from a brassy 20-member orchestra led by Jay Richards that sounds much larger. Not with the picturesque set designs, also courtesy of the multi-talented Jay Richards. Not with the fabulous costumes designed by Celeste Baillio. Certainly not with the spirited dancing choreographed by Stephanie White.
And the performances? Be prepared to just sit back and marvel at the performances
In the title role of the self-proclaimed Professor Harold Hill, Tyler Whitesides is the epitome of an old-fashioned song-and-dance man. His characterization of the almost-remorseless traveling con man is sometimes less than likable, but it’s hard to resist a guy who can really make the show’s anthem “Seventy-Six Trombones” come to life.
Just ask Jessica Mohammed. As the premature “old maid” Marian the librarian, the lovely Ms. Mohammed reluctantly surrenders to the oily salesman’s advances just in time to sing the show’s best-known standard “Till There was You.” And she sings it beautifully enough to make the entire audience misty-eyed.
But Whitesides and Ms. Mohammed are only the tip of the iceberg of talent represented by the more than 70 cast members of The Music Man. That huge ensemble -- ranging in age from elementary school kids to retirees – provides lovely choral singing and delightful dancing.
Among the many stand-outs in the supporting cast are Blake Jolley, Stanton Allen, Travis Leonhardt and Trenton Bateman, who make up an unforgettable barbershop quartet; Marianne Sidwell as the match-making Mrs. Paroo; Spencer Needham as impressionable Winthrop Paroo; and the eye-catching dance team of Stuart Needham and Staci Namelka.
This is the second time in a decade that Music Theatre West has staged The Music Man. Maybe the company plans to dust off this classic every time they have 70 or 80 talented people dying to get on stage. Or maybe they just plan to keep doing The Music Man until they get it right. If so, it’s time to look for a new show, because this production was perfect.