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Next Stage Theatre Company1
Average Rating Given : 3.00000
Reviews in Last 6 months :

The Music Man, by Meredith Willson
Yes, we have trouble
Friday, August 6, 2010
I am not a large fan of this show, but Iíve seen it a few times through the years and have enjoyed some performances of it. This production landed somewhere in the middle for me.

As with the previous reviewer, I agree that the set was too cluttered and needed to be opened up for more room on stage. The ensemble looked like a bunch of people waiting at the subway station in many scenes.

I loved the costumes and the lighting of the show. I was a little torn on the sound design, because I think the opening train sounds were fantastic. However, during the show there were some actors who needed to have microphones and did not. If a theatre is going to do a musical, they should invest in either purchasing or renting microphones. If itís not in their budget, then donít do a musical.

Other technical aspects I enjoyed was the musical direction of the show. This shined with the barbershop quartet. Of other amateur productions Iíve seen, the four guys were usually terrible at best. This quartet was impressive. The ensemble did a good job too.

I didnít like the choreography. It had nothing to do with the ability of the dancers. It was more about the lack of artistic thought that went into designing it. The stage was small and I certainly consider that an important factor in the choreographing of Shipoopi and other scenes. Yet, there was so much more that could have been done and was not taken advantage of.

My biggest problem with this show were some of the actors. Iím not sure if itís the directorís fault or the actorís fault, but some of the principle parts were weak. Harold Hill just didnít do it for me. He sounded like he was trying too hard to have a show announcer voice and failed to focus his character on his developing love for Marian. He spent most of his time trying to garner a laugh from the audience and never spent any time thinking about who Hill was and how he might feel in any given situation. As a matter of fact, there was virtually no chemistry between Hill and Marian at any point in the show. This translated to Marian, because she was completely detached from the rest of the cast through the entire production. Even in the scenes where she was supposed to appear to be in love with Hill, she still came across as a snooty witch when we should have been given insight into who she really was. During her solo while Amaryllis was playing the piano, her facial expressions didnít reflect anything that made sense. It was awkward and uninspiring.

Mayor Shinn was another character that left me feeling annoyed. This character is supposed to be one of the funniest characters in the show. Yet, I was subjected to someone who thought that stuttering was actually a great idea, when really all it did was drag the show out. He was not funny, except with his soap box routines, and failed to grasp the frustration he was supposed to have between himself and Hill.

Not all of the actors were bad though. I thoroughly enjoyed the performances of Marcellus, Ethel Toffelmeir, Eulalie Shinn, and Mrs. Paroo. They certainly garnered laughs throughout the show and left me with a pleasant feeling of experiencing their acting chops. The Barbershop Quartet was another group of actors that had me paying attention. The characterizations with all of them were fitting and even hilarious.

I think that this production left me feeling that it was an okay performance, but not fantastic. If the casting choices and some of the technical aspects had been handled a little better, this would have been one for the historical record.

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