I had the pleasure of going to the Baldwinsville Theatre Guild and seeing their newest musical offering, “The Music Man.” This was the BTG’s celebration of their 75th anniversary. The show has been sold out every time so far and is expected to continue to do so. The theater was packed with people and excitement.
Meredith Wilson’s classic, “The Music Man,” is about a con-artist that comes into an innocent town and creates a problem that doesn’t exist. Once the town is paranoid and behind him, he convinces them that he has the solution, though an expensive one. His plan is to collect the money to create a children’s marching band and skip town before the people can see that he didn’t really teach the children as promised. Meanwhile, he unintentionally falls in love with the town’s music teacher/librarian and the only person who seems to see through him… Marian Paroo.
I’ve been a fan of this show since a young age, I had only watched the movie adaptation. I was excited to see it live on stage. This production was the debut direction of 2015 SALT award winner, Henry Wilson. Instead of performing a major role on the stage, he took to the director’s chair, sharing his vision for the play. Wilson’s casting of another SALT award winner (Ben Sills) to play the lead role, Harold Hill, was perfection. Sills lit up the stage with his fun, charismatic energy and well-suited voice. All throughout the show you could see his excitement of performing with a constant and genuine smile.
Newcomer Maggie Dougherty, was tasked with portraying the equally memorable role of Marian Paroo, who was a flawless match with Sills. Their chemistry in singing, “Till There Was You,” gave me chills. Child actor Sam Denton, stole the show as the lisping younger brother of Marian, Winthrop Paroo. He had an amazing voice, a huge amount of charm and sweetness in his performance that left me smiling from ear to ear.
BTG’s stage felt much larger due to the amazing effects of the extravagant stage design of Henry Wilson, Rick VanGorder, and Dan Dunn. Set changes were dramatic and seamless with the help from the orchestra and extraordinary lighting (Sam Barbato). Thoughtful lighting choices created enhancement for the setting of day, night, indoors, outdoors, and overall mood changes. Some scene changes went unnoticed as ensemble members would dance across the stage to bright, delightful song.
Costumes for this production made you feel transported right into the time of the early 1900’s. Costume designer, Jodi Wilson and Karen Palinkas even dressed the ushers in period attire.
The performances of the opening number and the barber quartet were jaw dropping. This play lived up to its title, harmonies and the complexity of songs were accomplished with mastery. The musical numbers and score were astonishing and musical director Colin Keating deserves a lot of praise.
I was so impressed with the very quickly worded song, “Trouble.” Everyone had such confidence in delivering tempo and wit. “Goodnight My Someone,” and “Pick A Little,” had incredible sharpness and the musicians’ ability to stay in their own part was amazing. To be picky; the microphone sound was at times glitchy, it could be hard to understand people that were not miked, and the seats were a bit uncomfortable.
Henry Wilson beyond succeeded in bringing this musical to life. The audience and I laughed loudly throughout and the cast deserved the big standing ovation they received. This occasion has been so successful that BTG decided to add another show on Thursday February 2, at 8pm, with their scheduled Friday and Saturday evening performances on February 3, and 4, also at 8pm being close to sold out. Come to the Presbyterian Education Center in Baldwinsville, NY and enjoy an entertaining evening out. Don’t hesitate for tickets, go to www.baldwinsvilletheatreguild.org or call (315)-877- 8465.