I felt such joy and nostalgia when I heard that “The Music Man” was being brought back to Broadway. I grew up with this musical and I’m sure that most fans of the show know the songs and the scenes by heart. Well, the opening night at the Winter Garden Theatre on Broadway and 50th Street, had a buzz of excitement in the air. The lead role of Harold Hill was to be played by Hugh Jackman, and Marian Paroo by one of the most vocally, comedically awesome, talented actresses Broadway has to offer—the one-and-only Sutton Foster. Everyone was thrilled to be there for this momentous event!
The energy in the air was shared by the entire company as number after number were performed flawlessly, starting with the amusing song performed by the traveling salesmen as they go to Iowa. Every word, every pitch and tone of their voices was just right. The song “Iowa Stubborn” was also beautifully performed by the company. “Goodnight, My Someone” was a lovely song sung by Marian and her student Amaryllis, performed by Foster and African American Kayla Teruel. “Seventy-Six Trombones” put chills in the air and got hands clapping. “Pick-a-Little, Talk-a-Little” performed by the gossiping women of the town and “Good Night Ladies,” performed by the School Board quartet, are some of the beloved numbers that I know I was looking forward to. When Foster sang “Till There Was You,” I sat there in stunned appreciation of her magnificent instrument! I love her voice “’til I die”! There was a delightful chemistry between Jackman and Foster. “The Music Man” is such a fun time at the Theatre.
What I truly loved and appreciated about this “Music Man” is that it depicts Black people in Iowa. Not only are they in Iowa, they are part of the School Board quartet—namely Phillip Boykin and Nicholas Ward. And, one of the most refreshing castings that I also noticed was that not only is Amaryllis a young Black girl, but so is the mayor’s daughter Zaneeta, marvelously played by Emma Crow.
My favorite moments were every single time that Sutton Foster sang. Foster is absolutely fantastic and her vocal instrument epitomizes what a Broadway caliber voice MUST BE! All the scenes with the School Board were also marvelous, not just because they were amusing, but these men’s harmonies were spectacular. The other two members of the School Board quartet included Eddie Korbich and Daniel Torres. Some other featured cast members include Jefferson Mays as Mayor Shinn and Jayne Houdyshell as Eulalie Mackecknie Shinn. The creativity for this musical was shining throughout the presentation, especially the scene with the Wells Fargo wagon. I just won’t give it away. Marie Mullen was absolutely adorable as Mrs. Paroo, Marian’s mother. Benjamin Pajak was priceless as Winthrop Paroo.
The feeling throughout the musical was one of fun and high spirits. It is charming to watch as conman Professor Harold Hill sells naïve Iowa residents positions for their sons to be in a Boys Band that he will lead, complete with instruments, music books and uniforms. Only to find that love finds him with his foot caught in the door. While I enjoyed this production immensely, I must admit that Jackman seemed to be straining as he performed from the first number to the last. Foster and the rest of the company, however, were TERRIFIC! “The Music Man” is a must! “The Music Man” has a book, music and lyrics by Meredith Willson, and a story by Willson and Franklin Lacey, with fun choreography by Warren Carlyle and riveting direction by Jerry Zaks.
For more info and for tickets, visit www.musicmanonbroadway.com/