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.

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