THE MUSIC MAN at Broadway by the Bay

THE MUSIC MAN: Musical Comedy with book by Meredith Willson and Franklin Lacey, Music and Lyrics by Meredith Willson, directed by Lee Ann Payne. Musical director Attilio Tribuzi with choreography by Robyn Tribuzi. Broadway By the Bay, The Fox Theatre, 2215 Broadway Street, Redwood City, CA 94063. (650) 579-5565 or

THE MUSIC MAN at Broadway by the Bay brings in a full marching band.

It does not seem possible that the original musical The Music Man has been around for 55 years and it is still thrilling audiences in this age when rock music abounds. The show's success led to a popular 1962 film adaptation and revivals plus a lack luster 2003 television remake. It frequently is produced by both professional and amateur theater companies and the Broadway By the Bay production, seen at a preview night, is a real audience pleaser with a cast of 39 plus a live orchestra in the pit. As an added attraction, they even bring in the uniformed San Mateo Marching Band to bolster the final “76 Trombones” number. It is a clever touch but the professional quality of acting, singing and dancing by the cast earn their own accolades.

To refresh your memory, if that is needed, the synopsis only requires a few lines. Top notch con man Harold Hill (Tom Reardon), invades the town of River City, Iowa to organize a boys’ band thus to sell musical instruments and band uniforms. Alas, he knows nothing about music, and plans to skip town with the proceeds. He is aided and abetted by an old friend, Marcellus Washburn (Mark Alabanza), no longer a con man, who now lives in River City. Hill chases after Marian the town librarian and part-time piano teacher (Kerie Darner-Moss) who recognizes his game but passes up the chance to turn him in since her lisping younger brother Winthrop (Sam Hyrkin) comes out of his introverted shell as he anticipates learning to play his new trumpet. What is a girl to do when Harold Hill becomes her “White Knight?” Fall in love, of course and roué Harold Hill reciprocates even though he will be caught. Yes there is an exhilarating happy ending.

All the characters are there beginning with pompous, malapropism spouting Mayor George Shinn (David Gahagen) being suspicious of Hill. (“He’s a raspberry seed in my dentures.”). Eulalie Mackecknie Shinn (don’t you love the name), the mayor's wife (Linda Piccone). Their daughter Zaneeta (Sarah Hammond) is secretly seeing Tommy Djilas (Trevor Wright) a young man "from the wrong side of town." Then there is Mrs. Paroo, Marian's Irish mother (Claudia McCarley) and Winthrop the shy, lisping brother who gets to sing the rousing “Gary Indiana” that doesn’t have many S’s in the lyrics and that’s just great for Winthrop.

Willson has written some great counter point numbers for The Pickalittle Ladies, Eulalie's four gossipy friends (Audrey Carstensen, Kathryn Han, Jennifer Martin, Kristina Stasi) and the four bickering businessmen /School board members that Hill has united into a Barbershop Quartet (Mark Waldman, Ryan Baum David Murphy, Daniel Lloyd Pias).

Many of you will be tempted to make comparisons with the fantastic movie version but that would be a disservice to this present staging. Handsome Tom Reardon, who did a bang-up job in BBB’s Dirty Rotten Scoundrels slides into the role of Professor Hill with nary a hitch with his swaggering stage presence and singing voice. Attractive Kerie Darner-Moss has a competent soprano voice that is just a bit too sharp to carry the latter scenes when she becomes love-smitten singing “My White Knight” and “Till There Was You.”

It is the ensemble numbers that are a real joy as choreographer Robyn Tribuzzi flawlessly moves her large cast about the stage as the sing their happy songs. Trevor Wright and Sarah Hammond are excellent dancers and corps de ballet matches their ability in the library and the old foot-bridge scenes. The “Shipoopi” number is a real show-stopper as Mark Alabanza, resembling Buddy Hackett from the movie, leads the towns people with energy to burn. He has to share the accolades with the marvelous Babershop Quartet who weave in and out of the plot line always receiving appreciative applause from the audience. Claudia McCarley as the Irish mother is absolutely perfect displaying her control of the stage reflecting her 50 years in the theater.

It will be difficult to pick which tune you will be humming when you leave this very pleasing production since you will have to choose from: "Iowa Stubborn" , "(Ya Got) Trouble", "Goodnight, My Someone", "Seventy-six Trombones","Sincere", "The Sadder-But-Wiser Girl", “Pickalittle (Talk-a-Little)”, "Goodnight Ladies", "Marian The Librarian", "My White Knight" and "The Wells Fargo Wagon" – all in act one or the act two finale of “Seventy Six Trombones.” Running time about 2 hours and 30 minutes with intermission.

Kedar K. Adour, MD

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