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Acting is great, sound poor in ‘Music Man’

SHARE Acting is great, sound poor in ‘Music Man’

THE MUSIC MAN, by Meredith Willson; directed by John Caywood; Tuacahn Amphitheater, Ivins; 8:30 p.m. Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, through Sept. 2, alternating with "Fiddler on the Roof," which plays Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. All seats reserved. Tickets are $28, $22 and $18 for adults and $18, $15 and $12 for children. Group rates available. Reservations: 1-800-746-9882. Tickets may also be ordered on Tuacahn's Web site (www.showutah.com). Optional Dutch oven dinners also available, served from 6:30 until 7:45 p.m. on the plaza. Running time: 2 hours, 40 minutes (one intermission).

ST. GEORGE — One of Salt Lake City's most popular Equity actors, Max Robinson, known for his impeccable flair for comedy, is tackling one of the most challenging roles of his career — energetic con man Professor Harold Hill, who attempts to bamboozle the folks in River City, Iowa, during the summer of 1912. He claims he's peddling band instruments and uniforms, but his credentials are suspect.

And, not only is he busy wooing prospective customers, he also has his eyes set on the community's lovely (and no-nonsense) librarian, Marian.

The towering red cliffs of the Snow Canyon region may not pass for the flatlands of Iowa, but once the sun goes down, the broad expanse of the Tuacahn stage does quite nicely. The huge cast of singers and dancers, surrounded by a cluster of period Main Street buildings, has no trouble filling the stage with sprightly choreographed numbers.

Robinson is perfectly cast as Hill. Instead of trying to turn himself into another Robert Preston, he makes the role his own.

Melinda Larson, who has appeared in several previous Tuacahn productions, is a winsome Marion, the Librarian.

The rest of the ensemble is well cast, too, including a mother-daughter duo from Southern California, Cathy Greenwood and Rebecca Greenwood, as, respectively, Eulalie Mackecknie Shinn and her daughter, Zaneeta, with Zale Kessler as Mayor Shinn.

Marian's Irish mother and young, lisping brother, Winthrop, are played by Chrystine Potter Hyatt and Colton Winder. The latter is an energetic lad, but it was hard to detect any hint of a lisp. (This may have been partially caused by some serious microphone problems — especially when there is wind howling down the canyon. Not only does the wind blow cups and napkins off the Dutch oven cookout on Tuacahn's plaza, it obliterates occasional dialogue during the show as well.)

Choreographer Brent Schneider makes good use of the big stage to move River City residents around the place in the show's production numbers.

Idaho-based designer John Wayne Cook, who formerly designed sets for Desert Star Playhouse, has created a stageful of colorful, period buildings. Margo Seamons' costumes, too, are superbly executed.

It's probably just the nature of the beast, but the more intimate numbers — the solos and duets — seem to get swallowed up by the spacious surroundings.

Unfortunately, the show, too, is nearly defeated by the discordant sounds of the amateur-level orchestra. It's a shame that a professional cast, including several Equity performers, is backed up by musicians that sound like a junior high school group.

E-mail: ivan@desnews.com