I’m always excited when I get to see a production I’ve never seen, especially when it’s in one of my favorite cities. So checking out THE MUSIC MAN at the Pocket Community Theater in Hot Springs was a real treat. I don’t know how I didn’t see THE MUSIC MAN for so long, but I’m glad I waited for this show, because they were incredible! In fact, they’re so amazing that the remaining shows are sold out.
Meredith Willson’s THE MUSIC MAN is set in River City, Iowa, which is plagued by street vendors. One of them is Professor Harold Hill (David Fleming) who promises to teach children to play instruments, even though he knows nothing about music. He meets his friend Marcellus Washburn (Dan Breshears), who has taken the straight and narrow path, but keeps the professor’s identity a secret. He tries to convince town librarian and piano teacher Marian Paroo (Kara Claybrook), but she quickly finds out and almost delivers him to Mayor Shinn (Joshua Grandon), until she sees the difference he made at his little brother’s house. Winthrop Paroo (TJ Doss) and the rest of the kids. Things are getting worse, people want to deal with their problems, minds are changing, and all is well in River City.
Directed by Tami Kendall and produced by Jodi Tooke, THE MUSIC MAN has quite a few memorable songs that are recognizable even to people, like me, who have never seen this musical. The main one that comes to mind is “Seventy-Six Trombones” where the teacher rallies the city behind his group idea. I loved how the whole cast came together and the choreography, directed by Lilie Lim, was so much fun. “Ya Got Trouble” was another fun teacher and casting number. My favorites were when the quartet (Jim Lehnerd as Ewart Dunlop, Mike Liddell as Oliver Hix, Ted DeWeese as Jacey Squires and Steve Spakes as Olin Britt) teamed up with the women – both “Pick-a-Little, Talk-a -Little” and also the mashup “Lida Rose” and “Will I Ever Tell You”. The singing was fabulous with this cast.
It was a big cast with outstanding main characters. Fleming was charming as Professor Harold Hill. He had this mischievous look in his eyes, sang beautifully and charmed the actors and the audience. Claybook’s vocals were first class! She brought class and grace to her character, and honestly, I could listen to her sing all day. Breshears was as funny as Marcellus. His physical comedy and songs were so much fun to watch. He had the the whole theater laughing. Everyone looked like they were having a good time and the talent was phenomenal.
I’m always happy when there’s a band playing. Of course, with this musical about having a band, you need some brass backstage. Musical Director and Pianist Kristen La Madrid kept the show running smoothly and made it seem effortless. Performing with La Madrid was Kathy Ogilvie on fiddle, Jonathan Van Houten on reeds, Mike Copeland on trumpet, Tyler O’Briant on trombone, Hal Thompson on reeds and James Gathright on drums.
It’s been a popular show for the Pocket Community Theater, and I’m so glad I got to see it. I can’t wait to see what’s next for this wonderful place. For more information on what’s to come, visit their website at https://cloud.broadwayworld.com/rec/ticketclick.cfm?fromlink=2190673®id=105&articlelink=https%3A%2F %2Fwww.pockettheatre.com?utm_source=BWW2022&utm_medium=referral&utm_campaign=article&utm_content=bottombuybutton1.