Marriott Theatre's The Music Man Picks a Little, Sings a Little to a Big Time Performance.

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Bernie Yvon and Johnny Rabe.

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Johanna McKenzie Miller and Bernie Yvon.

I don't give stars, however
if I were so inclined, I would be very generous with Marriott Theatre's The Music Man. First off, let me say I am somewhat of a theatre snob--I am not a big
fan of musicals, I tend to get much of my theater fix in the city--missing major
chunks of the suburban scene and I've never liked theater-in-the-round.  But, I must admit, this time, I was
wrong on all counts.
I thoroughly enjoyed myself
at a musical, performed in-the-round, taking place in the suburbs.  (My prejudice, I must admit, is a
personal flaw, since Lincolnshire's  Marriott Theatre has been winning accolades from audiences
and the media for many years.)
 


Without a charismatic Professor
Harold Hill any production of Meredith Wilson's classic The Music Man would be
off tune.  This Music Man hit
perfect pitch with veteran actor Bernie Yvon slipping into the role like a
custom made suit.  The year was
1912 and River City, Iowa was an easy target for Hill to con his way into the hearts
of the small town's naive citizens--even winning the affections of Marian, the
Librarian, (Johanna McKenzie-Miller) who knew better but still couldn't resist.

 

Right out of the starting
gate, the show's energy explodes on stage with the a

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cappella double-talking Rock Island number featuring Charlie Cowell (Michael
Gerhardt
) and the traveling salesman's fever pitch performance rocking the
entire theater.  The number
cleverly previews what's ahead as Charlie and
another salesman tell the others about the con man known as Professor Harold
Hill, whose scam is to convince the River City parents that their children need
a band because "there's trouble right here in River City."  He promises to organize the band and teach music. Of course, he doesn't know a note (or "the territory") and will skip town
as soon as he is paid.

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This Music Man is a full-blown production
featuring a cast of 30 and a live orchestra under the direction David Kreppel
with Patti Garwood conducting.  The
casting features a talented group of actors who seem to compliment each others
roles.  Marion Paroo (Johanna
McKenzie-Miller
), the romantically challenged librarian, has a beautiful voice
and the easy give and take between her and her mother Mrs. Paroo (Mary Ernster)
is humorous and endearing.  Johnny
Rabe
as Winthrop Paroo, Marion's lisping, shy kid brother stole everyone's heart
when he belted out the Gary, Indiana song.  Eulalie Shinn (Iris Lieberman), is a hoot-and-a-half in her
role as cheeky artsy and sometimes outspoken wife of the mayor.  John Reeger plays the Mayor Shinn role
with just the right amount of pomp.

 

Then there was the dancing.  The dazzling choreography of Matt
Raftery
was evident throughout the production and especially creative in a cleverly
staged library number along with some pro numbers featuring the talented Andrew Lupp as
Marcellus Washburn solo and duo with Hill.

The staging was the crowning
glory to the production.  The Music
Man
may be the perfect vehicle for theater-in-the-round.  Or maybe it is just the way it was
created by Director Gary Griffin who utilized the entire theater to his
advantage.  Having the action in
front on stage, using all four aisles and having action coming from
behind submerged the audience in the action.

The Audience.

Kudos to the audience who deserve a round of applause for themselves for letting the actors know they were appreciated.  The audience enthusiasm, although at times a
bit over-zealous, was contagious and added that fourth wall or in the case of
theater-in-the-round, that enveloping circle.

Theatre and Ticket
Information
.

The performance schedule is Wednesdays at 1p.m. and 8p.m.; Thursdays and Fridays at 8p.m.; Saturdays at 4:30p.m. and 8P.m.; and Sundays at 1p.m. and 5p.m.  Ticket prices range from $40 to $48 plus tax and handling fees.  Seniors and Students receive $5.00 off a full price
theatre ticket on Wednesday 1:p.m, Saturday at 4:30 p.m. and Sundays
at 1p.m. and 5p.m.  On Wednesday and Thursday
evenings a limited number of Dinner and Theatre tickets are available for only
$55.00 per person.  Dinner is at King's Wharf Restaurant or the Fairfield
Inn (based on dining availability).  To reserve tickets with a major credit card, call the Marriott
Theatre Box Office at 847 634 0200.  
Running Time: 2
hours 30 minutes with a 15 minute intermission.  Valet parking available or park free in the adequate spaces
provided on the Marriott Hotel and Theatre's Campus. 10 Marriott Drive,
Lincolnshire.

About Marriott Theatre.

The Theatre was founded in December 1975.   Since that time, it has presented
more than 170 musicals.  It is
currently led by Executive Producer Terry James, Artistic Director Aaron
Thielen, and Artistic Director Andy Hite.  It is the most subscribed musical theatre in the country.

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