I could leave it at that but I won't. On this opening night (July 5), an enthusiastic holiday audience fell in love with the play all over again. Or, for some, perhaps the first time. The songs, the costumes, the choreography, the set, the music and the energy, all came together to forge a fantastic blend of showmanship and sheer talent.
"The Music Man" hits home with the theme and the plot of the show as well. This show is about a Midwestern small town. It follows fast-talking traveling salesman Harold Hill as he cons the people of River City, Iowa into buying instruments and uniforms for a boys’ band, despite the fact he doesn’t know a trombone from a treble clef.
Cody Jolly and Sarah Larson as Professor Harold Hill and Marian Paroo, respectively, were the glue to this fine ensemble, in which every player brought their A game. The timing of the cast showed that this was a well-rehearsed effort, which was certainly appreciated. This play is not easy to perform.
“Classic musical comedy is one of the most American arts forms, and it’s also one of the hardest to get right,” Executive Director James Beaudry said. He also directs and choreographs the play.
Every song was met with honest applause. The audience loved it from the start, with the fast-paced and rapid-fire delivery of "Rock Island." A thought, however, quickly comes to mind when this number is being performed. This kind of musical theater takes a special kind of talent and timing. Further proof would soon follow as Jolly declared "Ya Got Trouble." Hill and Company took the stage by storm and never let up. Perhaps that is the joy of this play. Even though there is a con game going on and potential heartbreak, it is too darn fun not to root for the salesman - - to succeed in the sale and love.
The only "Trouble" would be leaving out someone who deserves a mention here, but that is inevitable. The familiar songs, the jokes, the quick quips made this a very enjoyable evening at the theatre. The anticipation of the reprise for "Ya Got Trouble" into "Seventy-Six Trombones," was a highlight, and Jolly delivered. "Goodnight, My Someone" was beautifully performed by Larson, as were the ladies' performance of "Pick-a-Little, Talk-a-Little." Again, impeccable timing.
The play featured Judy Knudtson as Mrs. Paroo and Brad Field as Charlie Cowell, another fast-talking salesman, but with ethics. Also featured were Matthew C. Webb as Mayor Shinn and Hannah-Jo Weisberg as Eulalie MacKenzie Shin, who brought humor along with the talent. So, even when a word like "poop" is uttered instead of "peep," it played as if it should be there. The show also included fifteen performers from the area. Among them were Will Boze and Vivian Lobdell, both of Sterling, IL, in the roles of Winthrop and Amaryllis. Hats off to them as well.
The school board, who found out they loved to sing, quartet style, didn't miss a beat. The company had plenty of stage time with "Iowa Stubborn," "Marian the Librarian" and "The Wells Fargo Wagon," to name a few.
One song that needs to be mentioned is "Shipoopi." Tim Wessel as Marcellus Washburn leads the charge on this one. The song did not disappoint and the company came together and knocked it out. It was truly remarkable to watch the company perform throughout the play in the space allowed. They used the entire theater so the audience felt as if they were a part of River City as well.
Cindy Blanc of Monroe, WI vocal directs and Emily Bressler of Mount Carroll directs the musicians. Assistant director and choreographer is Cameron Turner.
“The commitment of the cast to creating a fun and spectacular show that celebrates a kind of mythical small town Americana, is turning 'The Music Man' into a show that I think our audiences will just love,” Beaudry added.
He was right as there was no real "Trouble" in River City as "The Music Man" marched right in and delivered a show that hit the right notes.
Area cast members included: Brad Field (Mount Carroll); Will Boze (Sterling); Vivian Lobdell (Sterling); Terrie Miller (Savanna); Kathleen Brinkmeier (Pearl City); Kevin Strunk (Morrison); Kallie Zuidema (Sterling); Caden Foster (Sterling); Elise Foster (Sterling); Angie Lobdell (Sterling), Levi Skoog (Chadwick), Kallie Timmons (Lyndon), Katie Woods (Savanna) and Morgan Zuidema (Sterling).
Meredith Wilson's "The Music Man" runs through July 14. Timber Lake Playhouse (TLP) is located at 8215 Black Oak Road in rural Mount Carroll, IL. Tickets are $15-23 and are available at the box office, by calling 815-244-2035 or visiting www.timberlakeplayhouse.org.