by Kellyn Post
Cedarville Theatre’s upcoming production of “The Music Man,” by Meredith Wilson, will bring the classic musical and well-known film to life starting Thursday, Feb. 2.
Set in the small town of River City, Iowa, in the first half of the twentieth century, “The Music Man” tells the story of Professor Harold Hill, a travelling salesman turned conman who finds his attempts to charm the standoffish, stubborn residents of River City harder than he expected. While the fast-paced, wordy songs, intricate dance sequences, and light-hearted comedic moments make the story memorable, “The Music Man” also prompts its audience to consider the need for change and self-examination.
Connor Tomlin, a sophomore nursing major playing the role of Zaneeta Shinn, described how the theme of change is portrayed in the musical.
“The characters in the show start out as stubborn people who don’t want to talk to anybody or relate to them at all, and then this guy comes in, and he has this can-do attitude, and he gives the energy for people to dance, and sing.”
Rachel Rowland, a senior intercultural studies major who plays the part of Marian Paroo, the female lead, shared that one of other themes of The Music Man is also a theme of redemption.
“I don’t want to give too much away, but essentially you see a really scummy character soften his heart throughout the show, and just kind of re-evaluate what life is about.”
Not only do the characters in “The Music Man” recognize the need for change, but they also learn to become better people.
“[He] goes from being a con man and chasing money to valuing people, and valuing time together with others, and being loved, and giving love,” Rowland shared.
Although the inhabitants of River City and Professor Harold Hill may both start out not being able to see past their own noses, the characters gradually learn to look at life a different way and to start caring about each other throughout the course of the musical.
As part of bringing “The Music Man” to life, the actors were challenged to make the characters their own, especially for the cast members who grew up watching the movie version.
“It was a challenge to kind of wipe that slate clean and start from the ground, and really figure out, okay, who is this person? How do I best convey that to my audience?” Rowland said.
In addition, Tomlin was challenged through the role of Zaneeta to rely more on dancing and body language than on dialogue to portray her character.
“It’s definitely a lot different than anything I’ve ever done, and it takes just as much work, I think, to have your character based off dance, because you don’t always have your words to use.”
As for the script, Robbie Lindmark, a freshman theatre major playing Professor Harold Hill, the male lead, shared that it was difficult to get the lines down and still be able to project.
“There’s just a lot of words in the show, so being able to get all of those words out so that they can be heard and understood and not swallowed and lost has taken a lot of practice.”
Lindmark also said that he enjoyed working with fellow students from across several different majors in addition to theatre to bring “The Music Man” to life.
“I think that one of the things that’s cool about the program here is that there’s so many different majors involved in it—there’s accounting majors in it, there are history majors, science majors. That’s been cool for me, to see all these different groups of people come together to create this thing.”
Along with his fellow cast members, Lindmark is excited to share the story of “The Music Man” with an audience after finishing the rehearsal process, and he hopes that the audience will take away a refreshing evening.
“Life is not easy, life is depressing…we don’t want to ignore the problems and the issues in the world, but at the same point it’s kind of nice to have an evening to just enjoy something that has a happy ending, and has hope, and joy.”
On a similar note, Rowland shared the hope that “The Music Man” will create opportunities for her and the other cast members to be a Gospel witness to the audience.
“That’s what I’m hoping from the show, is that we’ll have chances to minister to people after the performances, and that we’ll really be able to re-orient the show to be focused on minister and the Gospel,” Rowland said.
She also shared the hope that “the Lord opens doors for [the cast] to talk to all sorts of people that have decided to come to the show for whatever reason.”
Meredith Wilson’s “The Music Man,” a story of redemption and change told with memorable songs, dance sequences, and dialogue, will open on Thursday night, Feb. 2, at 8:00 pm, and will run through Feb. 12. Tickets can be purchased at the Stevens Student Center information desk by calling 937-766-7787, or by going online to www.cedarville.edu/ticketinfo.
Kellyn Post is a sophomore English major and an Arts and Entertainment writer for Cedars. She is happiest when drinking tea, listening to music, and reading old books.