Friday, July 17, 2015

Beautiful Grandeur: The Music Man at the Guthrie (Guest Post!)

Days later, I’m still reveling in the Guthrie Theater’s majestic and faithful production of Meredith Willson’s The Music Man (playing now through August 30 on the Wurtele Thrust Stage).

The Guthrie simply pulls out all the stops in this razzle-dazzle, slam-bam production, directed masterfully by John Miller-­Stephany. He has employed a surefire energetic cast who perform, in a classy, brassy, old fashioned theatrical manner, this classic piece of Americana theater. After seeing this rendition, I can almost see how it beat out West Side Story for the Tony Award in 1958. 

Photo by T. Charles Erickson
The entire cast is up to the challenge and perform at the top of their game, lead by the spirited Danny Binstock as Harold Hill and the effervescent Stacie Bono (possessed with a lovely voice) as Marian Paroo. Every actor, too many to name, owns their character. A shout out out to Peter Thompson and Barbara Marineau as Mayor Shinn and his petulant wife. The kids were also a real delight, but then, everyone was. Just delightful! 

There is so much to admire here. Let’s start with Mr. Willson’s now famous music score. It was beautifully sung whether in solo or chorus. The chorus work was staggering in the big numbers completely delivering Willson’s pleasing, big, brassy, melodies. We simply have to single out the barbershop quartet which drew spontaneous applause each time they sang. They were just so much fun. 

Photo by T. Charles Erickson
The Guthrie made full use of the thrust stage with Todd Rosenthal’s impressive set design and the number of performers gracing it. At times there were close to 30 people on stage at one time. The scene changes were done effortlessly with some pieces lowered below the stage as the lights dimmed, others popping up from the floor.

And the costumes! Boy, were they rich. Designed by Matthew J. LeFebvre, they were simply stunning. 1912 to the hilt! So much color and adornment. Kudos, too, to the lighting designer, David Lander. His work was especially effective in some of the tender solo numbers. 

Need I say that this is a highly recommended production? It’s practically perfect in every conceivable way. Good, old Broadway razzmatazz! Like I said, there is just so much to be admired scene after scene. It really is awesome!!! (contributed with massive enthusiasm by rickjallen)