‘The Music Man’ comes to town

July 24, 2012

By Warren Kagarise

Josh Feinsilber (clockwise from bottom right), Emily Johnson, Dan Ostrander, Regan Morris and Taylor Stutz star in ‘The Music Man.’ By Jean Johnson/Village Theatre

“The Music Man” rolls onto the Village Theatre stage soon as young performers conjure Americana, circa 1912, and upend small-town life after a con man comes to town.

“The Music Man” follows slick, silver-tongued Harold Hill, a con man posing as a bandleader to sell band instruments and uniforms to the unknowing population of River City, Iowa, and then skip town with the money.

The hitch in Hill’s scheme is Marian Paroo, River City’s prim-and-proper librarian and piano teacher. Paroo starts to uncover the deceit just as she falls for the con man.

KIDSTAGE performers present “The Music Man” as a SummerStock production from July 28 to Aug. 5 at the Frances J. Gaudette Theatre, or Mainstage.

Under the guidance of professionals, cast members between ages 8 and 18 perform. The orchestra includes advanced student musicians, too.

Set a century ago and initially staged on Broadway in 1957, “The Music Man” is known for the showstopper “76 Trombones” and “Till There Was You.” The Beatles later covered “Till There Was You” — the only Broadway show tune the Fab Four recorded.

Taylor Stutz, 18, stars as the oily-yet-charming Hill.

“We are similar in the way that we are both natural leaders,” he said. “I really like helping people, so in a way, Harold Hill is helping River City by the end of the show. We both are helpful in our own ways.”

If you go

‘The Music Man’

  • Village Theatre — Francis J. Gaudette Theatre
  • 303 Front St. N.
  • July 28 to Aug. 5
  • Showtimes vary
  • $16 to $18
  • 392-2202 or www.villagetheatre.org

The recent Redmond High School graduate turned to icons of Broadway and film for inspiration.

“In all the research that I’ve done and in all the time that I’ve spent with Makaela Pollock, our director — who is amazing — I have found that it’s like a mix of Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly,” he said. “Their smoothness and how they’re so charming and they’re such good problem solvers. Harold Hill just has a way to say everything.”

From the outset, Hill stands out in plain River City. The garish outfits he dons clash against the townsfolk’s frumpy frocks and simple suits. The contrast sets the tone for the production.

“Audiences can expect to see a very colorful array throughout the show,” Stutz said.

Stutz is headed to the University of Miami Conservatory of Musical Theatre after “The Music Man” closes. “The Music Man” marks the Mainstage debut for the longtime Village Theatre Institute student.

The lead actor performed last summer in Village Theatre’s Festival of New Musicals in “Hello! My Baby” — Emmy Award-winning “Cheers” writer Cheri Steinkellner’s catchy musical set along tenement-lined streets and populated by colorful characters.

“The Music Man” offers another opportunity to explore a deeper layer of musical theater.

“I’ve really loved discovering the fun challenges and gifts of doing this kind of musical,” Stutz said. “The golden age of musicals really is my favorite, and it’s been a really fun time doing the show.”

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