The Music Man—Review

by David Schlachter

My review of the April 22nd, 2008 performance of Sir Wilfrid Laurier High School’s production of “The Music Man”, for the Cappies.

Could a fast-talking con man who “doesn’t know the territory” possibly sway the stubborn folks of River City? Sir Wilfrid Laurier’s charming production of The Music Man showed that with music, anything is possible!

A Tony Award winning musical comedy, The Music Man opened in 1957 to critical acclaim, proving to be an enduring classic. It tells the tale of “Professor” Harold Hill (Sameer Ratti), a con man by trade, who sells instruments and uniforms to form boys’ bands, with the promise of teaching them to play, until he skips out of town. Intrigued by Iowa, he makes a stop in River City, but soon finds himself truly in love with the local librarian, Marian Paroo (Mariah Dean). Even though he is caught in some difficult decisions, love, and music, win in the end.

The energy displayed by the entire ensemble was tremendous, and especially benefited the show’s many musical numbers. “Ya Got Trouble” was performed with particular vivacity of expression and infectious energy. Backing the performers, the orchestra certainly did justice to the original score, playing it very nicely. The sets were solidly designed, and their vibrant color complemented the performers’ energy.

As Harold Hill, Ratti carried his character development nicely. He performed with a certain kind of ease and was a stalwart performer. Many of his songs had very difficult lines, and Ratti’s confident delivery kept the phraseology comprehensible. As Marian Paroo, Mariah Dean was charming, and very expressive. Her many songs, such as “My White Knight,” were sung naturally, with excellent control and sincerity.

As Winthrop Paroo, Jen Mulligan smoothly brought her lisping, teary-eyed character from recluse to confident singing fellow. She helped to illustrate the power of music throughout the show. Ryan Woodill, as Marcellus, provided important support, especially with his fine enunciation. He played his part earnestly, and his singing of “Shipoopi” opened the Second Act with pizzazz.

As Tommy Djilas, a kid from the wrong side of town, Ben Desjardins was an excellent wise-guy. His comic delivery, as well as his sincerity onstage and his dance moves, made him a truly memorable character. Erin Aucoin, as Amaryllis, gave her small role an enchanting quality. Her posture while playing the piano, and her voice and attitudes, were well done and enjoyable.

As the Mayor, Matthew Dodd carried a sense of stoic stubbornness, and delivered his comic lines subtly indeed. Ashley Gardiner, as Mrs. Paroo, performed believably with an excellent Irish accent, especially in “If You Don’t Mind My Sayin’ So.” Also, the Quartet provided wonderful, harmonious performance, especially with Marian in “Lida Rose/Will I Ever Tell You.”

Technically, sound was very difficult. Even though the orchestra sometimes overpowered the singers, the orchestra sounded excellent, aurally enfolding the audience, especially in the Overture. Characters did not have serious sound issues, and the work of the sound crew was well done. Lighting was barely noticeable, and supported the performances onstage without distraction.

As Sir Wilfrid Laurier’s first musical, The Music Man was a swell success, with song at heart. As Winthrop might say, “Scrumptious!”