The production of “The Music Man” at the IU Auditorium is the best musical that I’ve ever seen there. The sets are really lovely, imaginative, varied and beautifully lighted. There’s a fourteen piece orchestra to fully realize the nuances Meredith Wilson’s score. The staging and choreography are by Susan Stroman and it is wonderfully creative with plenty of action. The dance sequences are thrillingly executed and simply build from their own internal dramatic logic. In the initial scene on the train the actors’ motions were so neatly worked out that for a moment of two I really thought the Auditorium was moving. “Seventy-six Trombones” builds into a full Fourth of July spectacular. There’s plenty of energy throughout, though the show doesn’t slight its quieter and more tender moments either. This production of “The Music Man” has a great cast of fine dancers and actors. Diction and the sound are so good that I understood words and phrases that I’d never heard before.
Albert Parker was perfect as the grumpy Mayor Shinn. He was nicely paired with Corey Elias as his culture crazed wife. Joseph Torello, Bert Rodriguez, Steven Wilde and Joaquin Stevens did full justice to their rolls as the feuding school board members that the Music Man unites in barbershop harmonies.
“The Music Man’s” lady librarian Marion was beautifully sung by Carolann Sanita. Sometimes she was a little too prominent in the mix but the artistry of her singing and the tenderness of her acting was delightful. Pam Feicht was just right as her tough Irish mother and Joshua Siegel was a hit as her lisping younger brother Winthrop.
Gerritt Vandermeer as Professor Harold Hill was every bit the slick salesman, fully capable of selling his musical dreams even to those tough Iowans. In addition he brought a touch of thoughtful wistfulness that added depth and meaning to his character. The only thing that anyone could legitimately hold against Torello is that he’s a Purdue graduate.
It was a real pleasure to see a familiar show come to the stage in a fresh new production that respects our memories of the original and adds new delights.
“The Music Man” at the IU Auditorium plays just one more performance, tonight at eight.