Meredith Willson’s family musical “The Music Man,” follows professor Harold Hill trying to make money using a complicated plan to scam the town involving forming a marching band and running when the funding comes in.
IU’s Opera and Ballet Theater will stage the beloved show beginning with the opening-night performance at 7:30 p.m. Friday at the Musical Arts Center.
Luke Robinson, sophomore and one of the cast members playing Harold Hill, said he loves the show and has been involved in two productions prior. The other cast has Benjamin Seiwert in the lead role.
This experience has differed from his past times participating in “The Music Man” for many reasons, specifically the high caliber of show and the people has has been able to study under, Robinson said.
“Everything is basically professional level,” Robinson said. “It’s incredible to be able to step into the MAC theater and have these professional stage managers, set designers, lighting people and sound people. To step on that stage and do your thing with all those people around helping is incredible.”
Though it posed a challenge to rise to the level expected for the show, Robinson said overall the experience shaped him in a different way.
“Trying to maintain that level of precision and professionalism while also doing everything that I would normally do — learning the blocking, learning how they wanted me to do the role — and also being at the very high level they wanted me to be was hard,” Robinson said. “Ultimately, it was helpful and prepared me better than being super easy on me would have been.”
The development of Hill as a character, especially when introduced to his love interest, Marian the librarian, is one aspect of the show that Robinson said really stands out to him.
Second year graduate student Cadie Jordan and sophomore Virignia Mims play Marian in each respective cast. Mims said a fellow cast member asked her the other day if the experience seemed unreal to her, and she had to say yes.
“It's so surreal to be able to get to work with the caliber of colleagues, crew and mentors that I've been lucky enough to collaborate with on this production,” Mims said. “Every day was, and is, a joy and a privilege to come to rehearsal and create magic through music, acting and dance with everyone involved.”
Mims said Marian is her first role at IU and this particular character has been an engaging educational experience that integrates acting stamina and an ability to bring together lessons learned throughout her career as a singer and performer.
Jordan said the way Marian's emotions guide her actions is one of the most attainable traits of the character for her. Marian does not overlook the faults in Hill just because of his charm.
"She knows what he has done, but her priorities change as soon as she sees Winthrop smiling," Jordan said.
"It takes precedent over everything, and from that point on, she is optimistic and looks for the good in Harold. I think it's a smart thing to be able to do as we are all humans who make mistakes."
Mims also said she identifies in some ways with the librarian.
“I relate to my character in that I prioritize my family above all else,” Mims said. “As an only child, my parents and I are very close and like Marian, we all depend on each other for advice, laughter and love.”
Another of Robinson’s favorite parts of this show is the famed barbershop quartet, which Robinson said was one of his original roles in a previous production.
“The music that Meredith Willson wrote for the show is second to just about none in that older generation of musical comedy,” Robinson said. “The barbershop quartet featured in it — I have a personal love for barbershop quartets — is incredible.”
Mims said she hopes the audience leaves believing in the power of music.
“If not about the love story and the comical relief, this show is all about the wonders of how music has the power and ability to change people's lives and to reinvigorate a whole city — even if they use the 'think system' instead of more common-practice methods,” Mims said.
Jordan said the audience should walk away with a different understanding of how success might look and the importance of being happy.
"The music is wonderful," Jordan said. "The story is so charming. I am so happy to have been a part of it, and I'm excited to take the stage with my amazing colleagues."
Overall, the story will resonate with the musical theater community and beyond, Robinson said.
“Both casts give it a really great performance and if you want to see something that’s really American and really showcases a Valentine to small-town Iowa — it will keep you laughing and give you a good story — you should see the Music Man,” Robinson said.
Like what you're reading? Support independent, award-winning college journalism on this site. Donate here.
More in Arts
The Netflix mystery doesn’t have a whole lot going for it.
Maria “Pili” Del Pilar Gonzalez is a business owner, mother and immigrant.
The quinceañera theme for this Fiesta de Otoño matches its 15-year anniversary.