THE MUSIC MAN on the Mountain a winner.

(top)- Brigid O’Brien, (10 years old – her first Mountain Play) plays Amaryllis and sings "Goodnight My Someone" with Susan Zelinsky as Marian the Librarian.

(left) Harold Hill played by Robert Moorhead sings Ya Got Trouble in the 2012 Mountain Play production, The Music Man

(Right) Pictured (Mt Play Quartet) - Mountain Play Barbershop Quartet sings Ice Cream/Sincere: L to R - Kit Grimm, Daniel Bort, Sean O’Brien, & Joe Osborn

MOUNTAIN PLAY: The Music Man. Book, music and lyrics by Meredith Willson. Story by Meredith Willson and Franklin Lacey. Directed by James Dunn, musical direction by Debra Chambliss, choreography by Rick Wallace. Cushing Memorial Amphitheatre on Mt. Tamalpais, Mill Valley, CA. 415-383-1100 or 2012 Season Performance Dates: May 20, 27, June 3, 10, 16(Sat) and 17. All shows start at 2:00 pm.

THE MUSIC MAN on the Mountain a winner.

The Music Man , the 99th Mountain Play production is the 30th directed by Bay Area icon James Dunn. He had planned to retire after the 100th season but medical problems expedited the departure. What a way to go with 76 trombones to lead the way and the opening performance graced with a perfect sunny day with nary a wisp of fog creeping over the mountain ridge.

The Music Man has been around for 55 years and it is still thrilling audiences. The Mountain Play’s production is a real joy with a cast of 50 plus a live orchestra (musical director Debra Chambliss) behind the marvelous set by the always reliable Ken Rowland (his 25th for the company) with colorful storefronts that revolve revealing their interiors. As an added attraction, they even have a moving train for “Rock Island” the opening number by the traveling salesmen and a real horse to bring the “Wells Fargo wagon round the bend” and onto the stage apron.

The story is so well known that only a brief synopsis is needed. Notorious traveling salesman and con man Harold Hill (Robert Moorhead), 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 (Randy Nazarian), no longer a con man, who now lives in River City. Hill chases after Marian Paroo (Susan Zelinsky) the town librarian and part-time piano teacher who recognizes his con-game but passes up the chance to turn him in since her lisping younger brother Winthrop (Jeremy Kaplan) comes out of his introverted shell and charms us with his “Gary, Indiana” song that his ‘girl friend’ Amaryllis (Brigid O’Brien) as he anticipates learning to play his new trumpet and getting a band uniform with a “red strip running down the pant leg.”

What is a girl to do when Harold Hill becomes her “White Knight?” Fall in love, of course to roué Harold Hill. He too, capitulates knowing that he will be caught by the Mayor and the local constabularies with the help of the town folk. Dunn has staged a hilarious chase scene without the benefit of autos!! Never fear, this musical has an exhilarating happy ending.

You certainly will remember all the other (mostly) loveable characters beginning with pompous, malapropism spouting Mayor George Shinn (Stephen Dietz) being suspicious of Hill. (“He’s a raspberry seed in my dentures.”). Eulalie Mackecknie Shinn (Sharon Boucher ) [don’t you love the name?], the mayor's wife who would never read “Balzac.” Daughter Zanetta Shinn (Christina Euphrat) secretly seeing Tommy Djilas (Adam Roy) a young man "from the wrong side of town." Then there is Mrs. Paroo, Marian's Irish mother (Gloria Wood) with an Irish brogue that would cut glass.

Other favorites are Eulalie's gossipy friends, The Pickalittle Ladies, and the four bickering businessmen /School board members that Hill has united into a Barbershop Quartet that sing in tricky counter-point.

Making comparisons with the fantastic movie version would be a disservice to this thoroughly enjoyable staging. Although Robert Morehead is very professional and has a pleasant singing voice, he doesn’t quite have enough swagger and zip to make Professor Hill believable. Attractive Susan Zelinsky has a competent soprano voice that is just a bit too sharp to carry two major songs “My White Knight” and “Till There Was You.”

The ensemble numbers that are a real joy as choreographer Rick Wallace competently moves his large cast about the stage with energy that is infectious. The corps de ballet are excellent dancers displaying their ability in the library, the old foot-bridge scenes and the “Shipoopi” number. In that scene Randy Nazarian puts on his best ham act, resembling Buddy Hackett from the movie, creating a real show-stopper as he leads the towns people with energy to burn. Further accolades are earned by the marvelous Babershop Quartet who weave in and out of the plot line garnering appreciative applause.

It will be difficult to pick which tune you will be humming when you leave this joyful 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", “Gary, Indiana”, “Til There Was You” or the act two finale of “Seventy Six Trombones” accompanied by the Marin County Marching Band. Running time about 2 hours and 30 minutes with intermission.

Kedar K. Adour, MD

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