Crossville Chronicle, Crossville, TN

Things To Do

June 28, 2012

REVIEW: A toe-tapping good showing of 'The Music Man '

CROSSVILLE — Opening night of The Music Man at the Cumberland County Playhouse found many of the audience whistling “Seventy-six Trombones” as we walked to our vehicles. Ron Murphy, as conductor and pianist, leads the nine piece pit orchestra through a rousing performance of the 19 toe-tapping songs by Meredith Wilson that are central to this show. There are a number of patter songs requiring absolute timing of orchestra and vocalists. They never miss a beat.    

Leila Nelson has assumed the roles of director and choreographer. Your reviewer was present in 1997 when Leila, then age eight, marched as a River City kid. What talents she has honed in the intervening 15 years! Dance lessons and performance opportunities have abounded. In recent times, we have seen Nelson’s acting and choreographic skills on stage as her professional abilities have grown. Fine job, Leila.

We welcome back Britt Hancock who plays Harold Hill with just the proper touch of sleaze. Hill, a traveling salesman, has a suitcase full of promises. Hancock has the vocal and acting ability to convince us that he can do anything. We begin to trust him. In fact, like the townspeople, we almost believe he will produce a marching band with all the River City kids playing instruments. Porter Anderson brings his amazing acting, singing, dancing talents to the role of Marcellus Washburn, the only person who knows the background of Harold Hill. We hope to see more of Anderson.    

Lindy Pendzick portrays Marian Paroo, the librarian, as stiff and cold. We, Playhouse regulars, who have loved her as Maria in Sound of Music, Audrey in Little Shop of Horrors and have laughed with her as May in the current production of See Rock City, can scarcely believe our eyes. Lindy Pendzick successfully portrays not only the librarian but also a concerned daughter, a loving sister, as well as a woman who is accepting the possibility of love in her life for the first time. She depicts all those relationships with consummate skill. Her voice is especially lovely as she sings the wistful, “My White Knight.” Her voice blends hauntingly with Hancock’s as they sing “Till There Was You.”

On opening night, Pleasant Hill elementary student, Christopher Figueroa, starred as young Winthrop Paroo. He is a lisping youngster, mourning the death of his father, fearful of what life might bring. Figueroa represents each of the emotional stages of Winthrop’s life as he begins to respond to the attention given him by Hill. He sees himself affirmed for qualities no one else has seen and he did not know he had. Jonathan Tison, a homeschooled student who will be in sixth grade in the fall, alternates in the role of Winthrop.       

Mayor Shinn and his amazing wife Eulalie are played by the incomparable Jason Ross and Carol Irvin. Irvin is a riot with her headdress as the choir director and again as the Indian maiden. (Congratulations to properties manager Allyson Namishia.). Blaklee Garrett and DeAnna Etchinson alternate in the role of the Shinn daughter Zaneeta. We meet elder daughter Gracie in the person of either Katey Dailey or Crystal-Marie Alberson. Chaz Sanders and Cory Clark alternate in the role of Tommy Djilas, the town’s bad lad attracted to (of all people) Gracie Shinn. Surely participating in a marching band cannot reform Tommy. Or can it? 

The River City School Board, members Quinn Cason, Austin Price, Greg Pendzick and John Dobbratz, who question the credentials of Hill, morph into a fine barbershop quartet. Children are not the only ones in whom Hill sees unexpected areas of talent.

Lauren Marshall, currently playing Vera Sanders in the Adventure Theater production of Smoke on the Mountain, is seen as Mrs. Parro, mother of Marian and Winthrop. She is the piano teacher encouraging the talents of Amaryllis, played alternately by Emily Graham and Emery Smith.    

This is a cast of some 75 talented and dedicated people. Several are eight and nine-year-olds and many are teenagers. There are adults whose talents have graced the stage many times. For others, this is the first appearance at the Playhouse. Assistant directors Britt Hancock and Weslie Webster have aided in the coordination of this huge cast. A big thanks to all who give their time and talent to bring us theatrical treats such as this.

Many more persons deserve special mention for their singing, dancing and acting abilities shared with the audience. As in the proverbial marching band, each and every one is important and essential to the full realization of the performance. Suffice it to say that a fine performance awaits you. No matter how many times I have seen The Music Man, I am grateful to be able to tap my toes along with those on stage. Do call for your tickets and encourage your friends, neighbors, and visitors to join in the fun. 

     

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