Apple pie, summer barbeques, and parades—the epitome of classic Midwest Americana. A nostalgic comfort of the simple life in years past is what you’ll experience from the Tony Award-winning musical and film, “The Music Man,” by Meredith Willson and Franklin Lacey at the Rockwall Performing Arts Center.
“The Music Man” is an idyllic tale of a small bucolic town turned upside-down by a con-man. “Professor” Harold Hill convinces the town’s residents that their youngsters should learn to play musical instruments instead of spending time with the town’s new pool table. Hill plans to collect their money and skip town, but even a shyster’s scheme sometimes goes awry when an alluring woman enters the picture.
Piano teacher and librarian, Marian Paroo, has doubts about Hill’s sincerity and vows to expose his deceit. But when the “Professor” miraculously transforms her young introverted brother, she puts her plan to expose him on hold. Hill realizes the only way to keep Marian from informing the town of his dishonesty is to appeal to her romantic side. Much to their surprise and chagrin, they fall for each other. Hill’s newfound love for Marian thwarts his plan to “take the money and run.” But Hill’s past deeds catch up with him when an angry out-of-towner exposes Hill as a fraud. River City is outraged and demands justice. Will Marian come to the rescue of the man who has inadvertently strengthened their community and taught their children so much?
This timeless musical imparts several messages to its audience. According to Director Barbara Doubt, “this show speaks about a time of hope and redemption where a person and a community are about to see and find a new life and path forward despite adversity. […] what is great about America […] and that we find good in each other and create a positive mission as we move forward in life.”
Actor Eric Segovia instills a redeeming quality to his character, Harold Hill, “to illustrate [how] the power of selflessness has to change people to their very core.” He hopes that through his depiction of Harold, “audiences will be moved to reflect on the people that have helped make them who they are, as well as the people they could help through their own stories.”
Kally Duncan, who plays Marian Paroo, explains that her character “is very relatable in the way that once she lowers her guard and lets Harold into her heart, she bares her soul.” Her portrayal of the guarded librarian and piano teacher reflects Marian’s loneliness and desire to be loved and needed. Duncan states that the music itself inspired her portrayal of Marian and that she “put bits of myself into this character… I have built her from the ground up!”
Another nostalgic gem in “The Music Man” is the period wardrobe. Costume Designer Maureen Cruz believes they must reflect the impact Harold Hill has on the town of River City—his charismatic dream which transforms the town. “The costumes reflect this journey through color and, for certain characters, lighthearted frivolity.” And as noted by Cruz, it was fun to construct the Edwardian dress but also challenging due to the budgetary constraints of a nonprofit theater company.
So, if you’d like to travel back in time to a small Midwest town where corn on the cob, apple pie, fireworks and an iconic marching band make you remember summer days of yesteryear, this musical is for you. “The Music Man” will have you tapping your toes, singing out loud, and feeling good about man’s redemptive nature.
Rockwall Summer Musicals presents “The Music Man” at Rockwall Performing Arts Center August 10–August 19. Friday and Saturday at 7:30; Sunday at 2:00. $18 – $22.
Cover photo Mary Batchellor
K.L. Romo writes about life on the fringe: teetering dangerously on the edge is more interesting than standing safely in the middle. @klromo