Most Viewed Stories
'Music Man' recalls fond memories at Music Circus
Iconic musical runs through Sunday in Sacramento
'The Music Man'
TIMES: 8 p.m. Thursday through Sunday; 2 p.m. Thursday and Saturday
WHERE: Wells Fargo Pavilion, 1419 H St., Sacramento
TICKETS: Start at $30
CALL: 916-557-1999 or 916-766-2277
ONLINE: Sacramento MusicCircus.com
It's been 50 years since "The Music Man" hit the big screen featuring Shirley Jones as the spunky, small-town librarian Marian. Jones graced Sacramento's Music Circus stage to open its version of "The Music Man" on Tuesday night.
But this time, Jones played Marian's mother, Mrs. Paroo, in a family affair of sorts, with her son, Patrick Cassidy, starring as Professor Harold Hill — the Music Man.
That familial connection was evident throughout the three-hour production and 23 songs set in 1912 and based on Meredith Willson's book.
Couple Willson's songs — like "Seventy-six Trombones," "Shipoopi," "Till There Was You" and "Goodnight, My Someone" — with Glenn Casale's direction and you get a textural combo that has you nodding your head.
The show opens with salesmen sitting on benches, moving and bobbing so you get they're on a train and singing "Rock Island," the catchy tune peppered with "whaddu say, whaddu say, whaddu say," and the texture of the show is set. That same movement follows in Hill's ditty, "Marian the Librarian."
Jones was perfect as a sweet, genteel mother with an Irish brogue, keeping a countenance similar to the unflappable TV mom she played in the 1970s in "The Partridge Family."
Brandi Burkhardt as Marian, the beautiful spinster librarian who's spurned by the town's womenfolk, holds her own between the mother and son actors. Marcy Froehlich once again comes through with her period costumes that pair well with Christine Conklin's early 20th-century hair and wig designs.
But the big question was: Can Cassidy swoop in and steal the show like Robert Preston did in the 1962 film? The answer was yes. Cassidy hit River City, leaving his manipulative, flim-flam wake wherever he went. Even when some of the townsfolk, like Mayor Shinn (Kevin Cooney) sensed a con, Cassidy quick-talked his way out of it — every time.
Cassidy's Hill had a Midas touch, even though he couldn't play a lick of music, turning the naysayers into a singing quartet or a dance company. But he couldn't turn Madame Librarian's head until he touched her little brother, Winthrop, played by Carter Thomas.
The youngster offered a stellar performance as a child so affected by his father's death that he turned inward, barely speaking. Under Hill's promise of musical genius, the young man burst out of his shell.
The librarian and music man finally avowed their love in "Till There Was You." Burkhardt and Cassidy both have the pipes to hit the moon, but it's hard not to compare their version to Jones' and Preston's 1962 croon.
After the show, Jones treated the audience to a story that took place during the filming of "The Music Man," when she became pregnant with Cassidy and the director's solution was to keep cinching her corset tighter. Cassidy retorted something about the shape of his head.
Then during the song and tight embrace on the bridge, the in-utero Cassidy kicked the unknowing Preston, causing him to exclaim to Jones, "What the heck was that?" Much later, Cassidy met Preston, announcing how happy he was to meet him at last, and Preston retorted, "Oh, I met you a long time ago!" — an intimate bridge between the music men of the last century and this one.
"The Music Man" runs through Sunday.