Troupers' 'Music Man' magical

November 20, 1997|By Mary Johnson | Mary Johnson,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

To paraphrase Meredith Willson, "We've Got Magic Right Here in River City" (the Severn, that is) with the Moonlight Troupers' "The Music Man."

This show is a visual delight with sets that are true to Willson's story -- based on reminiscences of his boyhood in 1912 Iowa. His first show was eight years in the making with more than 30 drafts and 40 songs written before it reached rehearsals in 1957.

From set design to cast and orchestra, the Troupers have crafted a star-spangled production.

From the sound of the first whistle, the 24-piece orchestra under the direction of Raymond A. Ascione is a joy. The score is one of irresistible charm, its simplicity evoking a bygone time. I'm not sure America was ever like this, but it should have been.

Director Barbara Marder has assembled a first-rate cast.

John Montgomery plays "Music Man" Harold Hill and Sheri Kay Kuznicki is librarian Marian Paroo. They perform with great chemistry. Montgomery is a song-and-dance man who invests his character with the required roguish charm. Kuznicki is convincing as starchy Marian, who loosens up with time.

Both do well with the ballad "Till There Was You" and sparkle in the duet of "Seventy-six Trombones" and "Goodnight, My Someone." The melody of the "Goodnight" waltz is the same as the "Trombones" march, musically indicating the couple's bond.

As well as Kuznicki sings, she had some difficulty projecting her dialogue at last Saturday's matinee at Anne Arundel Community College's Pascal Center for the Performing Arts.

Several members of the strong supporting cast should be recognized: Gary Seddon as Mayor Shinn, Elizabeth Lasner as Mrs. Paroo and Anna Roberts as Zaneeta Shinn.

Marder deserves praise for assembling a group of child actors who don't overact or exhibit nauseating cuteness. Annie Posten as Amaryllis is a delightful actor and singer, as is Brandon Hardesty, who alternates with James Waters as Winthrop Paroo.

Tiffani Baldwin's choreography is showy; the steps are executed with precision and grace by the ensemble. Brock Ballard as Marcellus Washburn and La-Don Hart Hall as Eulalie Shinn are outstanding among the talented dancers.

For barbershop harmony, it would be hard to surpass the quartet of Ed Sutton, Bob Metzler, Ed Wintermute and Bob Glenn. It's a treat to hear them harmonize through "Sincere," "Goodnight, Ladies" and, especially, "Lida Rose."

Those who have contributed their artistry to the production end include setting and lighting designer Robert Kauffman and John Raley, head of the construction and paint crew. They created a wonderful train coach and the cozy Paroo living room. Assistant set designer Brian Oster created the Paroos' Victorian porch.

The lighting crew made seamless scene transitions, and the fly men smoothly moved impressive backdrops. Praise is owed to stage manager Joy Ajello and the shift crew for speedy set changes. Costume coordinator Agnes Deyhle gets credit for selecting near-perfect costumes to complete the visual impact of the production.

This quintessential feel-good musical continues this weekend at Pascal Center with performances on Friday evening, Saturday afternoon and evening and Sunday afternoon.

Ticket information: 410-541-2457.

Pub Date: 11/20/97

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