"The fella sells bands. Kids' bands. I don't know how he does it!" Recently, the students at River Hill High School showed us how in their marvelous production of The Music Man.
The musical takes place in 1912 and tells the story of a traveling salesman, Harold Hill, and his attempts to con stubborn Iowans in River City into forming a kids' band with Hill as conductor.
Little do the townspeople know that Hill can't read a note of music. The sly and crafty character fools them all into buying their children the works -- instruments, music books and even uniforms. However, Hill's interest in the town librarian, Marian Paroo, complicates his plans.
Zach Kashkett, in the title role of music man Harold Hill, delivered a fantastic performance. His energy and acting ability made The Music Man come to life. Whether Kashkett was singing in ensemble numbers or serenading Marian on the footbridge, his character and believability never faltered.
Opposite the devious Hill was Marian, portrayed by Michelle Shankar. A beauty on stage, Shankar infused her character with innocence and maturity. Her warm and genuine vocals were especially wonderful during familiar songs such as "Goodnight, My Someone" and "Till There Was You."
While Kashkett and Shankar gave terrific performances, the rest of the characters and ensemble of River Hill's production did not disappoint. Robert Argento, as the blustery mayor of River City, George Shinn, was quite comical. His incoherent speeches and frequent confusion on stage were a joy to watch.
Emily Woodhouse, playing Shinn's wife, Eulalie Shinn, epitomized comedy. A highlight of the production, her natural sense of timing, vocal inflection, and facial expressions were spectacular.
Other notable performances were by Samantha Gershman as the giggly Zaneeta Shinn and Sebastian Suarez as her beau, Tommy Djilas. Their adorable chemistry and dancing abilities were showcased throughout the performance.
Assisting the main cast was the effervescent ensemble displaying a stubbornness that delighted the audience. The ensemble's wonderfully colorful and creative stage pictures heightened the energy of the show.
With a fantastic cast, glorious melodies, and energy, the students of the River Hill drama department put on a lovely rendition of The Music Man, reminding the audience that love can be found where you least expect it.
Sara Trapnell, a student at Wilde Lake High School, reviewed "The Music Man" for the Cappies of Baltimore, a program in which students review high school productions under the direction of their teachers and vote on awards for outstanding performances.