Friday September 22nd 2017

“The Music Man”

musicmanSince the opening of the Broadway Series at The Paramount Theatre in Aurora, Chicago area audiences ( suburban in particular) have been experiencing some high quality theater.I am sure that Jim Corti is never without a smile since he brought his concept to this amazingly beautiful venue located in one of our area’s biggest secrets- Aurora! One of the only drawbacks to this amazing theater is that the length of time they do each show is far to short. By the time the “downtown” city dwellers find out about the shows, they are closing and preparing for the next production. I would hope that based on the crowds they are getting, that they opt for longer runs next season. Meanwhile, let me get to the current production, “The Music Man” with book, music and lyrics by Meredith Willson and story by Willson along with Franklin Lacey, this is a show that almost all of America has seen either on the stage or the hit movie. This is the story of a “huckster” salesman who travels the country, in particular, small town America to swindle the community- what he sells is dreams!

In this story, he takes advantage of the fear in the townsfolk in a small town in Iowa; the fear that their sons may become “bad” by getting in with the wrong crowd. What will save them is a band, a boys band which he will sell them instruments for,as well as instructions and of course uniforms. The deal is he makes the sales, fills their minds with dreams and then cuts out to the next “needy” town. That is what Harold Hill , the con man in all about. In this infamous role, director/Choreographer Rachel Rockwell, who of late has proven beyond a doubt that she is one of our finest, has cast Stef Tovar, who many of us know from his various Chicago credits. I have always enjoyed watching him perform and even though I thought being a song and dance man might show that he has limitations, Rockwell ( or the show itself) showed us a different side of Tovar. he is very charismatic in his portrayal of Hill and although he is not a pure singer, this role is more talk the words to the beat, and yet when he needed to truly ake music, he did. The love interest for Hill is Marion Paroo, the town librarian and piano teacher, who is deftly handled by The charming Emily Rohm who is adorable and what a voice. Those who have witnessed her recent performances in “Annie”  and “Hair” are in for another treat.                                                                                                    musicman3

In fact, this is as solid a cast as one will find, from top to bottom. It is a shame that they are just out of the mileage reach of getting recognized by The Jeff Award committee. Chicago favorites Don Forston as the Mayor,Liz Pazik as his wife,Michael Aaron Lindner as his buddy Marcellus, The always reliable ( and lovely) Mary Ernster as Mrs. Paroo and the adorable Johnny Rabe as young Winthrop Paroo. These are just a portion of cast members who glowed and  glimmered on the set designed by Kevin Depinet. There was a tech problem on opening night, but it was quickly repaired and the audience, so in touch with this lovely musical fable, did not allow this to interfere with their evening of entertainment.

Remember, the music in this play ( Musical direction by Michael Mahler, who seems to be everywhere these days- on the stage, in the pit or even writing the songs) is very memorable; “Gary Indiana”, Trouble”,”76 Trombones”,” My White Night”,”Till There Was You”, “Goodnight, My Someone” and more. The very opening of this prodcution,”You Got To Know The Territory”- Charlie and the salesmen (Michael Accardo,Roger Anderson, Rob Dorn,Sean Effinger-Dean and Jake Klinkhammer, truly set the tone of the entire production. Rockwell had these men, on a train car making us see the train moving from town to town as the salesmen discuss the problems they have in making a living. This is where Hill is first mentioned and the problems he brings to the profession. I have always thought this number can be the most important one- it truly sets the tone for the next two and a half hours. This one is a high as one can get!

One of the unique features of Hill’s operation is being able to side-step any situation. One of these is the Town Board trying to check them out. These four men, it seems have a desire to be recognized, as do most men and so when Hill has them sing, they become a quartet that he can get singing at the drop of a hat. They are sensational-Sean Effinger-Dean,Matthew R. Jones,Rob Dorn and Roger Anderson.  In fact, other than the shortness of the run, only through February 3rd, I find this to be one of the best productions in recent years. Oh yes, for those of you unfamiliar with the story, the con man goes straight, the old maid falls in love and at the end, there is a band, not a very good one, but for all of these charactesr, there is hope!musicman2

To catch it while it’s hot, you might want to plan your trip to Aurora by calling the box office at 630-896-6666. The performance schedule is:

Wednesdays at 1:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.,Thursdays at 7:30 p.m.,Fridays at 8 p.m.,Saturdays at 4 and 8 p.m. and Sundays at 1 and 5 p.m.

Tickets are $34.90-$46.90

You can come byy the theater box office located at 23 E. Galena Avenue, call the box office or go online to ParamountAurora.com

There is valet parking, reasonable , street parking or for those of you who are casino regulars and plan to make that part of the visit, I am sure you can park there. But to be honest, this is one of those true FAMILY shows, and we don’t get as many as we need, so make it a family trip to beautiful Aurora. There are lots of attractions.

To see what others feel, go to www.theatreinchicago.com

go to review round-up and click on “The Music Man”

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