For those unfamiliar, the musical revolves around a charismatic imposter and splashes a lot of redheads. Harold Hill (played by Hugh Jackman, the most feisty and smooth man you’ve ever seen) moves from town to town, moralizing his panic and exploiting it. When he arrives in River City, Iowa, Harold snookers through the town, fearing the rotting effects of a newly installed pool table.
Ya got trouble, folks!
Right here in River City
Problem with uppercase ‘T’
And it rhymes with “P”
And it stands for pool!
A charming crook proclaims that the cure for this threat is a wholesome boy’s marching band. This doesn’t make much sense, but whatever. Harold is charming and the townsfolk are happy to buy the fantasies he sells. They hand over their savings and await delivery from a Wells Fargo van.
Harold schedule He hops on the last train and leaves town before anyone realizes he can’t read or write music. However, the scam fell through when Flim Flammer fell in love with a local gal. This time he decides to stay there — because the real man, Ahem, faces music.
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I’ve seen this latest film five times so far this year. Usually he was alone, often seen in moments of stress or uncertainty. For example, I bought a ticket last minute on Election Day in order to get away from my computer screen and away from the urge to constantly refresh the sting of fear. Truly, nothing soothes political unrest more than a tap-dancing Wolverine. That said, Broadway tickets aren’t exactly the cheapest pain reliever (and they’re definitely not covered by my health insurance).
So why am I so eager for a sixth viewing before next month’s production wraps up?
Some appeal of “The Music Man” is obvious. Witness writer Meredith Wilson’s devious wordplay and the verbal twists he packs into his high-speed pattern songs.
HE’S JUST A BANG BEAT, BELL-RINGIN’,
Big hole, great go, neck or nothing,
RIP-ROARIN’, EVER’-TIME-A-TIME-A-BULL’S-EYE SALESMAN,
Professor Harold Hill, Harold Hill.
There’s the playful swagger of “Seventy-Six Trombones.” In this work, Warren Carlyle deftly choreographs the national anthem, alchemizing the dancer’s limbs into layers and layers of imaginary brass instruments.
And in “Marian the Librarian,” Harold enlists the town’s children in an affair with the town’s standoff librarian, Marian Palou (a somewhat miscast, but victorious Sutton Foster). Marian’s silent library is thrown into chaos with flying books, foot-swinging pinwheels and useless noises.
Even “Shipoopi,” perhaps the most radical song in Broadway history, earns its place in this production. That’s because it gives Foster, a fine dancer confined in an almost static role, a chance to finally stretch his legs at the start of the second act.
The show also features quietly subversive sexual politics, perhaps unexpected given its G-rated reputation. Harold, for example, sings a blatant rebuke to men’s typical fetishization of women’s “purity.” (“I cheer, I rave about virtue too late to save… I hope Hester wins just one more.”)
But I think the real reason I’ve been looking for solace in The Music Man is because, like Harold Hill himself, the show sells fantasy. Specifically, it’s a fantasy about how Americans can actually get along.
“The Music Man” is about the healing nature of art. Harold teaches his discordant neighbors to live in harmony by turning the town’s quarrelsome school board into a quartet of barbershops.flat bad The arts that River City residents learn can be restored. At the end of the show, The Boys still yells at her parents when her band plays an asynchronous “Minuet in G.” The sour ooppas of their children.
It’s this forgiveness fueled by love and music that makes “The Music Man” so compelling. The community was duped by an admitted scam.townspeople can Humiliated, suspicious and divisive. Instead, somehow they bond stronger and tighter than before and emerge from their collective trauma.
Yes they lied.But eventually they notice them I wanted to lie. Even better, the cheater isn’t a psychopathic shy person, but a misguided cheerleader with an overactive imagination. No wonder everyone can move on!
If only we could all live in River City.