The Music Man (2008)
We performed The Music Man in October 2008 at the Harlequin Theatre, Redhill.
Once again, we were fortunate to work with Helen Hardwick as Producer/Director and Angela Barker as Musical Director. We also welcomed a new choreographer Tonia Porter who put us through our paces (with some help from Louise Wright and Alys Dreux)!
|Harold Hill||Kevin Stuart||Male Quartet|
|Marion Paroo||Jenny Clarke||Jacey||Kevin Wood|
|Mrs Paroo||Jennie Connor||Ewart||Ian Stone|
|Tommy Djilas||Simon Cox||Oliver||Chris Whitebread|
|Zaneeta Shinn||Laura Nicholson||Olin||Terry Foster|
|Mayor Shinn||Stewart Lock|
|Eulalie Shinn||Sally Hatton||Ladies|
|Charlie Cowell||Nick Rogers||Ethel Toffelmeier||Fiona Thompson|
|Marcellus Washburn||Peter Thomas||Alma Hix||Sue Shippam|
|Amaryllis||Wakana Yasuda and Lizzie Melbourne||Maud Dunlop||Liz Barnett|
|Winthrop Paroo||Harry Nicholson and Joe Shippam||Mrs Squires||Debbie Marsh|
|Gracie Shinn||Philippa Hogg||Other Ladies|
|Christina Usher||Jane Johnson|
|Farmer||Colin Bousfield||Nicky Allen||Fen Mole|
|Farmer's Wife||Nicky Allen||Julie Anscombe|
Review by Tony Flook on Thursday 16th October, reproduced by permission of The Surrey Mirror
Whilst some musicals seem to be constantly on the stage others, equally watchable, such as The Music Man are rarely seen. Alright, it’s not worth looking too hard at the story but the show is notable for its songs, sometimes witty dialogue and its colour. In short, it has everything needed for an undemanding, entertaining evening.
The Opera Club gave a bright production of the tale of the charlatan ‘Professor’ Harold Hill who convinces the citizens of River City that he can form their children into a band. It’s no surprise that he ends up as a reformed character and finds that he really loves the girl he thought he could walk out on.
The opening number, featuring a group of salesmen chatting in time to the movement of their train, was impeccably co-ordinated.
Enter Harold Hill. Snappily dressed, smooth talking Kevin Stuart looked and sounded as plausible in his syllable-perfect patter song You Got Trouble, as he did when he tried to win over Marian the Librarian. His fervour shone through as he enthused about the mythical Seventy-six Trombones.
Harold’s eagerness was offset by Jenny Clarke’s ice-cool Marian, determined to resist his charms but wistfully singing Goodnight My Someone. They were finally reconciled in a well balanced, attractively staged Till There Was You.
The quartet – Terry Foster, Ian Stone, Chris Whitebread and Kevin Wood – were a class act with their barbershop harmony of Lida Rose and when they sang Goodnight Ladies whilst the ladies concerned chattered away with Pick-a-Little, Talk-a-Little.
Many of the supporting players made the most of their appearances, with Jennie Connor as a sincere Mrs Paroo and Peter Thomas an ever-active Marcellus.
Congratulations to The Opera Club for recognising young talent in Wakana Yasuda and Joe Shippam (alternating with Lizzie Melbourne and Harry Nicholson) who played Amaryllis and Winthrop. The many other children in the cast helped give River City a realistic family feel.
The ensemble, representing the townsfolk used the stage naturally, to Tonia Porter’s choreography. Director, Helen Hardwick, ensured that the pace rarely flagged. Musical Director, Angela Barker and her orchestra entered fully into the spirit of this lively show with its many toe-tapping and hummable numbers.
NODA Review : Reproduced by permission of Joanna Silcox
This is one of my all time favourite shows, but very rarely done - one wonders why since it is full of catchy tunes, many of them well known, has a reasonable storyline, and, essential in amateur operatics, masses of exciting chorus work.
Kevin Stuart in the title role turned in a faultless performance, every inch the crooked but loveable salesman. Jenny Clarke with her fine acting skills and distinctive singing voice made a lovely contrast but delightful pairing as spinster librarian Marion Paroo. Wardrobe, hair and makeup are to be congratulated for effectively minimising the age difference between these two players.
Lizzie Melbourne and Joe Shippam as “Amaryllis” and “Winthrop Paroo” both performed with distinction, and obviously have long acting careers ahead of them. Jennie Conner, Mrs Paroo, made a convincing mother figure, with just the right touch of humour as well as parental concern.
The show was stolen by Kevin Wood, Ian Stone, Chris Whitebread and Terry Foster. They made a seriously classy barbershop quartet, and it would be difficult to imagine how this could have been bettered, such was their musicality, vocal teamwork, and presentation. Perhaps they should consider a career change!
Resident Musical Director, Angela Barker, sets high standards for her chorus, principals and musicians. In The Music Man many of these are children, but I am sure that she will nonetheless have been very pleased with the overall outcome. Having such an able childrens’ band for the final scene rather misses the point, but I can quite understand the reasons for good playing in these circumstances.
Director Helen Hardwick left no stone unturned preparing her talented team of chorus, principals and back stage crew. Her interpretation and execution of the many musical numbers, including the initial Train Opening and Pick a Little, was inspirational and I appreciated the lovely patterns created on the stage. Lively dance and movement was supplied by choreographer, Tonia Porter.
The team of wardrobe mistresses had sourced a superb collection of costumes. So frequently this is let down by the inclusion of modern colours and materials but not so here and the overall effect was as good as any West End production. Very well done!
Although an excellent, value for money production, Music Man was let down by poor sound. It was quite difficult to hear all of the words, particularly when underscored and when the actors turned their backs to the audience. Harold Hill with his essentially fast delivery was particularly let down by this. I hope that the situation improved for the rest of the run.
The Reigate and Redhill audiences were lucky to be treated to such a sumptuous production from Opera Club. We will all be looking forward eagerly to your next show.
Joanna Silcox NODA Rep, District 8, SE Area