Noah Racey (left) as Harold Hill with the company of Meredith Willson’s The Music Man at The 5th Avenue Theatre. Photo: Mark KitaokaThe 1950’s produced some of Broadway’s most classic tunes and performances. Among them, Meredith Wilson’s, The Music Man, became one of those canonical hits. This musical has since traveled through time and space where it has currently wound itself upon the stage of Seattle’s Fifth Avenue Theater.

Noah Racey (left) as Harold Hill with the company of Meredith Willson’s The Music Man at The 5th Avenue Theatre. Photo: Mark KitaokaThe 1950’s produced some of Broadway’s most classic tunes and performances. Among them, Meredith Wilson’s, The Music Man, became one of those canonical hits. This musical has since traveled through time and space where it has currently wound itself upon the stage of Seattle’s Fifth Avenue Theater.

Within the grand Chinois-themed theater, with its eccentric colors and hand carved dragons, it is a bit difficult to imagine a River City, Iowa emerging within its core. However, once the lights dim, the orchestra awakes with the trombone and eases into an instrumental mix of the show’s soundtrack. Suddenly, the charm of old Broadway resurrects itself. The curtains draw to reveal a train cabin where the rhythmic beat of the chugging chain gives way to a group of salesmen singing “Rock Island,” with verses that foreshadow what is to come when a seasoned con-man, Harold Hill (Noah Racey) drops in on the quiet city of River City and begins to stir the scene.

The Music Man depicts Hill’s attempt to trick a town into giving him money, promising them a talented band comprised of the town’s children in exchange. Hill convinces the town to invest in his endeavor because the opportunity cost would be allowing the young boys to become involved with delinquent shenanigans without proper musical mentorship.

A young librarian who also doubles up as a piano teacher, Marian Paroo, sees right through Hill’s antics from the get go. However, before she can oust the con-man, she falls in love with him. The climax occurs when word begins to travel around town, unraveling Hill’s notorious reputation and Marian must then make a decision to either defend or expose Hill.

On stage, the set is tastefully minimalist, placing emphasis, instead, on the band, the lighting, and the young cast,–all of which are tactfully coordinated and visually pleasing.

Most commendable are the children and teen ensembles, most of whom are making their first debut on the 5th Ave. Joshua Feinsilber who plays Winthrop Paroo with the unfortunate lisp is lovable and fearless. The teen ensemble nails the “Shipoopi” number with an upbeat swing dance choreographed piece that is probably the most memorable of the performances.

Female leads were audience-winners, particularly Mrs. Shinn (Laura Kenny) who is sassy and hilarious with a dominating stage presence. Laura Griffith who plays Marian has a genuine feel to her, and her voice is refreshing and strong.

The salesmen quartet (Eric Jensen, Aaron Shanks, Greg Stone, Hugh Hastings) is delightful and their harmonies possess a charm that is both nostalgic and cheerful. Their tunes and voices alone singlehandedly swept the musical aspect of the show away.

Noah Racey as Harold hill, however, is a bit underwhelming. Although he is as likable enough as far as con-man goes, his performance was rather forgettable and insignificant compared to his cast mates.

All in all, The Music Man remains an admirable piece of Broadway artwork worthy of a trip down nostalgia-lane.

 

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