SUNY Fredonia News and Campus Report"

Current Articles | Categories | Search | Syndication

Commencement eve pops tradition marches on with ‘The Music Man’
Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Commencement eve pops tradition marches on with ‘The Music Man’

A Commencement eve tradition marches on when Rockefeller Arts Center presents a Tony Award-winning musical comedy about a con man posing as a marching band director in an effort to swindle the residents of a sleepy Midwestern town.

“The Music Man in Concert” will be presented on Friday, May 13 at 7:30 p.m. in King Concert Hall. Meredith Willson’s six-time Tony Award-winning musical comedy has been entertaining audiences since 1957.

Glen Cortese leads the Western New York Chamber Orchestra, performing on stage with some of Fredonia’s most talented students in this concert production staged by Adjunct Lecturer Brent Weber, who directed last fall’s Hillman Opera production of “The Merry Widow.”

Set in Iowa in 1912, the story centers on con man Harold Hill, who poses as a boys’ band organizer and leader in an effort to sell band instruments and uniforms to the naïve townsfolk.

Hill promises to train the new band, but his real plan is to skip town without giving any music lessons. The town’s librarian and piano teacher, Marian Paroo, sees through him. But when Hill helps her younger brother overcome his lisp and social awkwardness, she begins to fall in love. Hill experiences similar feelings and risks being caught to win Marian.

“The Music Man” is considered one of the best musical comedies of all time. The show’s score has roots in the music of the soft-shoe, ragtime, barbershop quartets and the march, all of which were considered to be the “sounds of the American heartland” in the early 20th century.

Among the popular tunes from the show are “Seventy-Six Trombones,” “Shipoopi” and “Til There Was You.”

Noted critic Robert Coleman wrote in 1957, “If you want to be happy, spend an evening with 'The Music Man.' What a show!”

“The Music Man” opened at the Majestic Theatre on Dec. 19, 1957. The original production ran on Broadway for 1,357 performances. The most recent Broadway revival came in 2000.

Willson was the librettist, composer and lyricist for “The Music Man.” It was the first, and most successful, of the three Broadway musicals he wrote.

Willson based the musical on his own childhood in a small town in Iowa. Born in Mason City in 1902, Willson studied at the Damrosch Institute of Music (later The Julliard School). His professional career began when he was hired as the principle flutist and piccolo player for the John Philip Sousa Band. Willson went on to serve as first flutist with the New York Philharmonic Orchestra.

When Willson set out to write “The Music Man,” he was encouraged in his work by his friend, Frank Loesser, the composer-lyricist who created “Guys and Dolls” and “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying.”

It took Willson eight years – and 30 drafts – to complete the musical. A total of 40 songs were written, with 18 making the final cut.

The finished product was hailed for “lovingly and humorously capturing the lost innocence of America at the beginning of the 20th century.”

“The Music Man” was adapted for film in 1962, starring Robert Preston and Shirley Jones. In 2003, there was a popular television film adaption with Matthew Broderick and Kristin Chenowith in the lead roles.

As the concert version, this production features all the musical numbers in running order with the connecting dialogue that tells the story. However, there will be no scenery and only limited costuming.

Tickets are available at the Fredonia Ticket Office in the Williams Center, by phone at 673-3501 and online.

“The Music Man in Concert” is a DFT Communications Pops Series event sponsored by Basil Chevrolet, Buick, Cadillac Inc. as part of the Lake Shore Savings Season.

Share on Facebook

Previous Page | Next Page

State University of New York at Fredonia