Behind the stage at 'Music Man'
"The Music Man" — based on the Broadway musical of the same name — premiers this week at the Marysville Charter Academy for the Arts. Putting this play on at the Marysville Community Auditorium has involved the protracted effort of teachers and students, and has helped the students grow closer together and blossom as singers, dancers, musicians and actors.
Starring James Murphy as Harold Hill and Amanda Allan as Marian the Librarian, the play promises to offer our community a breathtaking amalgamation of music, dance, acting and fun.
However, long before the production ever hits the stage, the student body and staff at MCAA labor for months to produce it. I went to a rehearsal to see how the play was turning out and see if I could get a few interviews with the students.
Busy and chaotic, students and teachers ran around trying to find missing students, make substitutions for absent ones, get the sound working right and put props on the stage.
Mrs. Marks, the drama teacher at MCAA, rushed up to ask for some help backstage while Skip, the head honcho with the sound system, tried to get volunteers to help him with errands of his own.
I found time eventually to talk with Mrs. Zenobia Brown, MCAA piano teacher, Marysville Mass Choir director and vocal director for the play. While I sporadically offered questions between her other discussions and errands, I got the sense of how much work has gone into creating this play.
When I asked Mrs. Brown what is the most valuable element of the play, she responded, seeing "all the music meshing together, all the music within the students" and "watching the students get so involved in their character."
I asked if "The Music Man" had created a sense of community among the students involved in the production. Mrs. Brown said, "Yes, there has to be. They work extra hours together, and many of them have known each other all through high school." She added that this has inspired the students to "be their best."
James Holland, a senior, plays Oliver Hicks in "The Music Man" and sings in the quartet. He said the most challenging and, conversely, the most enjoyable aspect of the play is singing with the quartet.
While "the half-step harmonies are challenging" as well as "harmonizing with three other people at once," the singing is also very rewarding and enjoyable, he said. Trying to portray elderly characters from 1912 was also a challenge, he added, but was still "really fun."
James said that although tensions inevitably exist between some students, everyone pulls together to do their part.
With a smile, Mrs. Brown said she feels pride in the students and the role she plays to help them develop their talents. "I like watching the students grow."