A Persian Cafe, Edward Lord Weeks

Wednesday, 24 May 2017

Review: The Music Man

The Music Man is a fantastically catchy musical set in 1912 Iowa, in which conman "Professor Harold Hill" persuades a town to purchase large numbers of musical instruments and uniforms on the pretense that he will operate a marching band for their children, but his plans to defraud the town go awry when he falls in love with the town's fierce but socially unpopular librarian and music teacher, Marian Paroo. It won five Tony Awards in the year of its release including Best Musical, despite having as a competitor the greatest work of music ever written. More pertinently to how I first encountered it, it plays a minor role in the Rorshach's Blot classic Larceny, Lechery, and Luna Lovegood! as the play to which Fred drags Angelina on every one of their dates. eso theatricals were recently putting on a run of the play, and having previously enjoyed their Sweeney Todd, I was eager to see this too.

Again, the performance was clearly that of amateurs rather than professionals. That said, the set and costume design were absolutely fine, the acting and music adequate and the singing good (except for some unfortunately consistent disharmony in the school board barbershop quartet, whose source I was unable to ascertain). The weakest part of the performance was the generally unimaginative choreography, which often was nothing more than characters marching round the stage and raising their arms in synchronisation. To be fair, it is my understanding that someone had to step into the role of choreographer at a late stage, which suggests that they probably didn't have all that much time to rehearse the dancing either, and therefore had to remain on the easier side of things.

There were odd moments - for example, when a very Dutch woman exclaimed of herself and her two children (both played by Hungarians) "Oh, but we are Irish!" But overall, the performance was enjoyable; it did a better job of conveying the energy of the musical than its beauty, but did a quite reasonable job of the latter too.

(Incidentally, a more mainstream reference to The Music Man than Harry Potter fanfiction: Marge vs. the Monorail)

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