C R A I G B I E R K O R E B E C C A L U K E R
CASELLA PAUL BENEDICT RUTH WILLIAMSON|
KATHERINE McGRATH RALPH BYERS
CLYDE ALVES KATE LEVERING MICHAEL PHELAN
JACK DOYLE BLAKE HAMMOND JOHN SLOMAN MICHAEL-LEON WOOLEY
A Little Bit of History
This was the first show written by Meredith Willson, who was 55 years old at the time. He began his career as an instrumentalist and musical director, later wrote a symphony and scored a few movies, but it was on Broadway that his name would became famous. THE MUSIC MAN for which he wrote the book, lyrics and music opened on Broadway in 1957. The critics raved about it and the public made it run for 1,375 performances.
The show was also the first to use the musical talents of Robert Preston, and in doing that made him a star.
That season the show won 8 Tonys, including Best Musical, Best Actor for Preston, Best Book and Best Composer and Lyricist.
Later it became one of the few movie adaptations that were true to the stage original and once again Preston played Prof. Harold Hill. The movie was nominated for 6 Oscars including Best Film and won for Best Score of a Musical.
Now, 43 years later after its opening, this show has its first big Broadway revival and the result is exciting.
A Revival Made in Heaven
Many of us, musical lovers, have watched the movie adaptation a few times and it was hard to believe that a new stage production would do justice to it; specially when there isnít a new Robert Preston around. Fortunately for us it was Susan Stroman who took the helm of it and for that we must be forever thankful. Yes, this is an old fashion show that relies in emotions and innocent humour, reminding us of a lighter Broadway. There arenít special effects or amazing changes of scenery. What we have here is a good book, a fabulous score and a bunch of delicious characters with whom we fall in love.
A Magician Called Stroman
Stroman didnít reinvented the original, she followed it with respect and a terrific sense of rhythm. The result is a highly entertainment show, that made me laugh and cry of happiness. Iím not ashamed of feeling so emotional about it, but this is what live theatre should be, an amazing experience we would never forget. I know the critics see the shows with their head, well I always see them with my heart and maybe thatís why I love this show so much.
Iíll never forget the chills I felt down and up my spine during the "Seventy Six Trombones" number; Stroman is a wonderful choreographer and itís amazing the way she puts everyone moving on stage. Another great number is "Marian, the Librarian", where books are used as dance instruments. Thereís also "Shipoopi",of course it sounds corny but it works wonderfully. Of the quieter moments I loved "Lida Rose/Will I Ever Tell You?", sang by Marian and the male quartet.
Besides doing all the choreography, Stroman reveals a natural talent to direction keeping the entire show full of life, humor and rhythm, without a dull moment.
A Lively Cast
Stroman also knew how to take full advantage of the fabulous cast and everyone seems to love the show as much as we do. From the terrific comic duet of Ruth Williamson and Paul Benedict, to the perfectly harmonic male quartet (known as the Hawkeye Four), not forgetting the fabulous dancer that Clyde Alves is (he deserves the Astaire Award he won) and the talented young Michael Phelan. As Marian, Rebecca Luker is pure perfection and as Prof. Harold Hill, Craig Bierko is a true revelation showing a star power I didnít knew he had.
I couldnít finish this review without a final world to the fantastic curtain call, itís so exciting that I wanted to join them. This is a great show and a great party!
Book, Music and Lyrics by Meredith Willson
Direction and Choreography by Susan Stroman
Rated by Jorge: +++++