Broadway World: BWW Reviews: The Engeman’s THE MUSIC MAN

April 3, 2014, by Melissa Giordano

All of the productions at Northport’s John W. Engeman Theatre are a special treat. Their current offering, Meredith Wilson’s The Music Man, is certainly no exception. The fantastic production, running through May 18th at the gorgeous Long Island venue, boasts a top notch cast who deliver Broadway caliber performances.

The musical’s story revolves around con man Harold Hill, portrayed delightfully by Rob Gallagher, who pretenses himself as a boy’s band organizer/leader. He sells band instruments, instruction books, and uniforms to the naive Iowa townsfolk, but plans to skip town with their money without giving any music lessons. Mr. Gallagher receives roaring applause particularly with his spirited renditions of “Trouble” and the iconic “76 Trombones”. Additionally, Mr. Gallagher has great chemistry with co-star Kim Carson who portrays prim librarian and piano teacher Marian Paroo.

Perceptive Marian sees right through Harold’s scheme and is initially stand-offish toward the “masher” – we’re in the year 1912 here, folks. However, as Harold begins to help her younger brother – Winthrop, portrayed adorably by Jeffrey Kishinevsky – overcome his lisp and social awkwardness, Marian begins to fall for Harold. Ms. Carson’s strong voice is ideal for the demanding score and makes it a point to interact with pretty much everyone on stage with her. Additionally, she also receives praise from the audience with her stunning performances of “My White Knight” and “Will I Ever Tell You”.

Carlos Lopez is also part of the Igor Goldin directed cast as Harold’s longtime friend Marcellus Washburn. Mr. Lopez was especially fantastic leading a lively performance of “Shipoopi” in Act Two with Mr. Gallagher and the cast. Special kudos also to Nathan Applegate, Richard Costa, Kenny Francaeur, Chris LaBeau, Larry A. Lozier, Jr., Kevin Necciai, Doug Vandewinckel, and Kilty Reidy for a rousing opening number of “Rock Island”. This is a tricky song; you can’t miss a beat in the number and they delivered brilliantly. The rest of the large, talented, enthusiastic cast moves well to Antoinette DiPietropolo’s fun choreography highlighted by the wonderful orchestra headed up by James Olmstead. Ryan Moller’s costumes are stunning as well with a definite throwback feel to them.

As so the Engeman certainly has another hit with The Music Man. Predictable? Perhaps, but this classic from the golden age of theatre is one every theatre enthusiast should see. The Engeman’s incarnation delivers a great cast, wonderfully executed numbers, and, frankly, a smile on your face as you leave the theatre.

The Music Man is presented by the John W. Engeman Theatre of Northport, Long Island, through May 18th. By Meredith Wilson, Directed by Igor Goldin, Scenic Design by Josh Zangen, Costumes by Ryan Moller, Lighting Design by Cory Pattak, Sound Design by Craig Kaufman, Hair & Make-Up by Kurt Alger, Casting by Stephen DeAngelis, Music Direction by James Olmstead, Choreography by Antoinette DiPietropolo, Stage Management by Naomi Anhorn. For more information and to purchase tickets, please call 631-261-2900 or visit www.engemantheater.com.

Photo by Michael DeCristofaro; Kim Carson and Rob Gallagher in the John W. Engeman Theatre’s The Music Man

New York Theatre Guide: Review, ‘The Music Man’

April 2, 2014 by Kristen Weyer

The John W. Engeman Theater at Northport presents Meredith Willson’s The Music Man. This beloved classic opened last weekend, and is playing through May 18, 2014. Full of comical characters, enchanting musical numbers, and lively, jovial dance sequences The Music Man is a delight for all ages.
The Music Man follows con-man Harold Hill (Rob Gallagher) as he plans to take in the parents of a small town, River City, Iowa. He promises that in only four weeks, he can transform their sons into a boy’s marching band; though naturally through the purchases of musical instruments, uniforms and instructional booklets. The only problem is Harold doesn’t know the difference between a piano and a piccolo. Despite his musical ignorance, Harold manages to turn the town on its head with his fast talking, and slippery ways. However, not everyone is so easily swayed to believe in Harold’s enticing vision. The town librarian, Marian Paroo (Kim Carson), is also the savvy local piano teacher, who has some serious doubts about the authenticity of Harold’s claims. Meanwhile, Mayor Shinn (Ray DeMattis) and the school board (Richard Costa, Kevin Necciai, Kilty Reidy, and Kenny Francoeur) continually hound after him for credentials, causing Harold to reach deeply into his bag of distracting and humorous tricks. Before Harold can skip town with his collected money, he realizes his flirtations with Marian have turned into something that might be worth staying for.
The quality of this production is wonderful. Every aspect, from the acting and costuming, to the set design, works together for a stunning performance. Many of the actors have performed on Broadway and other stages, and the quality of their performances is noticeable. Even the young, new actors have impressive abilities. Jeffrey Kishinevskiy, one of the boys who plays Winthrop Paroo, shone in his performance of “Gary, Indiana” with a pleasant, clear voice. Rob Gallagher showed tremendous vocal ability and control with his fast paced talk/singing throughout the performance, and the beautiful, clear soprano of Kim Carson was a pleasure to listen to.

‘The Music Man’ is a delight for all ages.

The teenage love story sub-plot, was an added enjoyment to the performance. The workman’s son, Tommy Djilas (Justin Schuman), is in love with the mayor’s daughter Zaneeta Shinn (Heidi Friese), but the mayor only sees a boy from the wrong side of the tracks. Take a peek at these two on the sides, even during the main action; they will put a smile on your face.
Marian’s spunky mother Mrs. Paroo (Patti Mariano) was a fantastic character. Her loveable portrayal, combined with humorous wishing for Marian to get married, and incredible Irish accent, made for a memorable performance. Ray DeMattis also deserves commendation on his performance as Mayor Shinn. The humorous, twisted lines were delivered to perfection, and the character’s frustration was palpable.
The six member pit orchestra, conducted by Music Director James Olmstead, provides all the music for the show with stunning success. From “Seventy-Six Trombone”s to “Till There Was You,” the composition comes across in such a way that you believe you are listening to a much larger orchestra. The School Board turned Barbershop Quartet, also benefited from Mr. Olmstead’s direction in impressive a cappella renditions of some of their songs.
A great show depends not only on the acting and singing, but also on the little details that make a show believable. The costumes were time period appropriate, down to the shoes and hair styles. Even minor characters had three costume changes. Different locations were portrayed with rolling set pieces, which also aided in changing the mood on the stage. The dance sequences were wonderful, full of intricate choreography, lively jumps and fast paced twirls. From the opening number to the closing scene, The Music Man will enchant all who attend.
Running Time: 2 ½ hours with a 20 minute intermission.
The Music Man is running at the John W. Engeman Theater at Northport from March 27, 2014 – May 18, 2014. Shows are Wednesdays – Fridays at 8 p.m., Saturdays at 3 p.m. and 8 p.m., and Sundays at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. Tickets are $65, and available at the box office, by phone (631) 261-2900, or online www.engemantheater.com.

NEWSDAY ‘Irving Berlin’s White Christmas’ review: Merry indeed

If you’re dreaming of a white Christmas, you could do worse than a Vermont ski lodge. But beware. Few things in life are as variable as “Love and the Weather,” as the song goes:

Unpredictable, irresponsible

Unbelievable, unreliable

Ever since the world began

Are Cupid and the weather man

Yet, as with any holiday musical, the final scene of “Irving Berlin’s White Christmas” — receiving a full-throated reincarnation at Northport’s Engeman Theater — is entirely predictable.

Merry merry rules.

In case you don’t recall the Bing Crosby movies — “Holiday Inn” (1942) and “White Christmas” (1954) — on which the show is based, Bob and Phil, Broadway song-and-dance stars and World War II veterans, wind up on a train to Vermont with a sister act hired for a ski-resort gig. In a coincidence possible only in romantic musicals, the inn is owned by the general who commanded the boys’ division in Europe.

Cautious-in-love Bob, sung by Aaron Ramey with a booming leading-man voice, and Betty, frosty as played by Kennedy Caughell except while singing her torch duet with Bob (“How Deep Is the Ocean”), are paired with ladies’ man Phil (Drew Humphrey) and flirty Judy (Darien Crago), who are hot to fox-trot. They make a nimbly in-tune leading dance couple. (James Olmstead’s brassy orchestra accompanies Humphrey’s choreography.)

The boys conspire to save the general’s deeply unprofitable inn by throwing a Broadway-scale Christmas show and recruiting guys from the old division to fill the seats. But a misunderstanding involving the inn’s busybody concierge (Kathryn Kendall as a former Ethel Merman protege) sends Betty fleeing from Bob’s arms the morning after she was driven into them by a sweet “Count Your Blessings” lullaby he sang to the general’s granddaughter. Adorable Susan is played alternately by Katie Dolce and Claire Levasseur, both 10, while Drew Taylor soldiers on as the grandpa general.

Whenever the plot improbabilities threaten to derail “White Christmas” from its inevitable sing-along — you know the lyrics, don’t you? — director Mark Adam Rampmeyer cuts briskly to a flashy dance number, distracting us with color-coordinated, mid-20th century costumes of Ryan Moller’s design. Jonathan Collins’ rustic set brings to mind a Vermont barn when it isn’t disguised with sequined curtains for the Manhattan scenes.

Partying like it’s 1954 may not sound like a hoot, but at the Engeman, nostalgia brings a smile, and maybe even a tear.

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