By Richard Pacheco
“The Music Man” is a musical with book, music, and lyrics by Meredith Willson, based on a story by Meredith Willson and Franklin Lacey and is currently playing at Theatre by the Sea in a spirited, energetic and fun production. The plot concerns con man Harold Hill, who poses as a boys’ band organizer and leader and sells band instruments and uniforms to the naive Iowa townsfolk, promising to train the members of the new band. Harold is no musician, however, and plans to skip town without giving any music lessons. Prim librarian and piano teacher Marian sees through him, but when Harold helps her younger brother overcome his lisp and social awkwardness, Marian begins to fall in love. Harold risks being caught to win her.
This was a winner from the start, with its talented cast shining and the supporting cast adding robust glimmer and pizzazz to it all. While still an element of its era, this show shines thanks to the terrific cast.
Jason Ostrowski is the slick con man, Henry Hill, who still has a heart beneath his cons and slick exterior. He has a definite presence and that is full of style and class. His rich baritone is silken and resonant, the perfect musical foil for the uptight librarian, Marian (Tiffan Borelli). Hill is the epitome of a con man, smooth talk and superficial style. But this con man has something more underneath, an emotional Achilles hell and Marian will find it. His presence is powerful and intriguing for Marian and the audience. He sings “Trouble” with convincing style and gusto. His duet with Borelli on the bridge is sheer delight in “Til There Was You.”
Tiffan Borelli is a delight as the somewhat stuffy and proper librarian, Marian. She has finesse and style. Her voice is sweet and sincere and fine contrast for his solid baritone. Marian is a young woman caught up in her very pristine life, being a librarian and not really having a social life or any romantic prospects–until Henry Hill comes into the picture. She is wary, even suspicious of him and even when she gets reaffirmed in her quest to find out more and sees his questionable character, she is still drawn in magnetically with increasing passion and disregard of his spurious past. She sings with sincerity and passion in songs like “Goodnight My Someone” and “My White Knight.”
There is a lot to like here with the large cast, all of who deliver the goods consistently. Tom Gleadow once again shows his skills and comic finesse as the mayor, Mayor Shinn. He can be blustery or confused with just the right flair. Lorinda Lisitza is a delight as his daffy, music enthralled wife, Eulalie for some great comic touches throughout. Charlie Cowell (Dan Prior) is a traveling salesman determined to unmask Hill as the fraud he is delivers a fine performance. His comic timing is winning and winsome. Patrick Conway is Hill’s longtime friend and associate who struggles to help him including warn him when it all seems to be closing in to bring Hill disaster and arrest.
The rest of the supporting cast are just as fun and talented.
Everything is right on the mark here. The period costumes by Jeff Hendry are impeccable with just the right period flair and style, particularly the women’s hats and dresses. The choreography by director Richard Sambellico is exquisite, robust, vital and sleek. In “Seventy-Six Trombones” it shine with real gusto and fantastic dance moves, acrobatic to the point of being like a circus. he directs his fine cast with sincerity and conviction. evoking the best from the best consistently. Musical director Eddie Gutman keeps everything musically on track without a hitch.
The show is very much a product of its era, but survives that rather well with the fresh, inspiring performances and style of the entire cast. “The Music Man” runs through July 15 at Theatre By The Sea, 364 Cards Pond Rd., Wakefield. Tickets are $46-$72. Call (401) 782-8587, or visit theatrebythesea.com.