The Indiana Festival Theatre’s inaugural program at the Lee Norvelle Theatre and Drama Center is off to a fine start, with a very good production of Meredith Wilson’s The Music Man. The mostly collegiate cast is talented, well trained and eager to please.
Youth And Age
Taylor Crousore hit all the marks as a slightly dogged, but still spell binding Professor Harold Hill. Russell Stout played Marcellus, the professor’s former confederate who’s gone straight with his “Shipoopi.” Julia Mosby was a gracious but glittering Marian the librarian. English Department professor Ray Hedin, Theatre and Drama diction coach Nancy Lipschultz, and veteran actress Heather Hertling Narducci nicely filled the senior roles of the bumbling mayor, his starstruck wife, and Marian’s canny Irish mother.
Matt Birdson, Philip Christiansen, Andrew LeVan and CJ Pawlikowski were the city fathers who’re always being lured away from their duties and quarrels into barbershop quartet harmonies of songs including “Sincere” and “Lida Rose.” The ladies of the cast matched and melded with them in the mix with “Pick a Little, Talk a Little.”
As for the child actors, Ava Vanderkoff was a charmer as Marian’s piano student, Amaryllis. Elijah J. Earle shyly lisped and then triumphed in “Gary, Indiana,” and “The Wells Fargo Wagon.”
The Physical And Visual
Along with the variety and mix of music, the Music Man is full of varied and extended dance pieces. In some shows, these can verge on the fantastic and mystical. The choreography and execution in this production is more grounded, but still inventive and energetic.
Fred Duer’s scenic design neatly uses simple and graphic elements to suggest the varied locations. Robbie Stanton’s costumes are dramatic and charming. Music direction and the coaching of the very well-coached cast were by Terry LaBolt. Direction and the choreography were by George Pinney.
Frankly, with the themes of love and inventive community festivities it’s hard to imagine a better musical to start the summer with.
At the theatre for you, I’m George Walker