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Y.'s ‘Music Man’ has all the right stuff and more

SHARE Y.'s ‘Music Man’ has all the right stuff and more
Harold Hill (John Preator) tries to persuade mayor's wife, Eulalie Shinn (Meghan Stettler), to chair the Ladies Dance Committee.

Harold Hill (John Preator) tries to persuade mayor’s wife, Eulalie Shinn (Meghan Stettler), to chair the Ladies Dance Committee.

Mark A. Philbrick

MISS NELSON IS MISSING; SCERA; based on the Harry Allard book, adapted by Joan Cushing; Mondays and Saturdays through Feb. 11 with matinees Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, tickets available at the box office at 225-2569; running time 60 minutes.THE MUSIC MAN; Brigham Young University Department of Theatre and Media Arts, School of Music and Department of Dance; through Jan. 29; tickets available at the box office 378-4322; running time 2 hours 30 minutes, one 15-minute intermission.

PROVO — Bravo, BYU!

If you think you've seen "The Music Man" and can pass on this stage production, think again.

This is a show that has it all: clever staging, extraordinary choreography, brilliant vocals, adorable children and great acting, all backed by the art of Grant Wood, an artist who created pastoral settings of the same area in the same time period as the play.

The paintings are projected onto a huge screen behind the action and lend a marvelous historical, artsy element to the production.

The rolling green hills of Iowa, River City as it might have been and the facade of the library and the City Hall, along with colorful landscapes and a few black and white portraits add another dimensional layer that works very well.

Meanwhile, the pace of the show is plain lively. In fact, sometimes it's hard to see where the cast members catch a breath, especially in the opening sequence with the traveling salesmen on the train.

This show moves along at a clip and is obviously well directed (by George D. Nelson).

John Preator plays a marvelous, cunning but likeable Harold Hill, who has nice chemistry with Marian the Librarian, played by Summer Wood.

Marian has grace, dignity and intelligence; and her vocals are absolutely breathtaking. She renews the songs that sometimes slow down this show.

Other standouts include Oliver Gaag as Mayor Shinn, his wife, Eulalie Mackecknie Shinn, played by Meghan Stettler, and the anvil salesman, Charlie Cowell, played by Ryan Simmons. He makes a bit part relevant and fun.

But honestly, everyone in the cast contributes in a major way to this enjoyable show.

The small children are well used, with a tiny girl heading out by herself in one of the first scenes and a couple of skinny-legged boys wearing the BYU blue band uniforms in the final scene.

The Pick-A-Little Ladies "cheep, cheep, cheep" in rhythm with their feathered hats a'bobbing.

The Grecian Urn dance sequence is hilarious.

The school board barbershop quartet has a marvelous, polished blend.

The dancing all the way through is fun to watch; and when you realize they're dancing on an uneven stage with several sets of steps, it becomes even more impressive.

The costuming is kept nicely in period and is unusually picturesque with lots of gorgeous feathers for Mrs. Shinn and the Pick-A-Little Ladies and lots of froth and ribbons for the girls in the cast.

Then, not to be forgotten, the live orchestra adds a wonderful background and richness.

Here is a chance to see this American classic painlessly, a classic that has endured well since its origin in 1957 with lines such as Harold Hill's "I always think there's a band, kid," that resonate.

It's a simple story on the surface that deals with giving people hope, seeing the good in others and the changes that can come even to a hardened conman and a jaded spinster.

E-mail: haddoc@desnews.com