After looking forward to the El Dorado Musical Theatre’s production of The Music Man for months, I saw the show last Saturday afternoon – the first performance after opening night – and I wasn’t disappointed. As is typical with everything EDMT does, what I saw was brilliantly and professionally executed. In fact, this show was dazzling from the moment the curtain opened. A steam engine that appeared to be 12 or 15 feet high looked like it could run right into the audience. But then it turned and opened to reveal a passenger car full of travelling salesmen in the song called “Rock Island,” which imitates the sounds of a train. (You remember “what d’ya talk” and “but you gotta know the territory,” don’t you?) This was just the first of many spectacular sets. With their help and the always period-perfect costuming, it didn’t take a lot of imagination to believe that the year was 1912 and that you were in River City, Iowa.
There are two casts in this show (I saw the River Cast), and I hesitate to comment on one set of actors, because I’m sure that both casts are equally outstanding. But I have to say that Andrew Wilson (Prof. Harold Hill in both casts) captured the jaunty self-confidence of that now-beloved con man with his typically excellent singing and acting. Opposite Andrew was Julia Adams as the winsome librarian and piano teacher, Marian Paroo. She won my heart, as much as she won Harold Hill’s. But as excellent an actress and singer as is Julia, and as charming a couple she made with Andrew, I’m sure Olivia Kaufmann – the other Marian – with her outstanding voice and acting would be just as appealing.
I’m especially sorry to have missed Olivia because, for her and Julia, and several other EDMT performers, this will be their last show. Having seen them sing and dance over several years, they have become my favorites, and I am sad to see them age out, go off to college – or embark on a professional career. If it makes me sad, I can only imagine how everyone at EDMT feels. But this happens every spring. And even as I was thinking about the young performers I would miss, I noticed – for the first time – even younger ones who seemed to have the spark of natural entertainers, and now I’m anxious to monitor their progress in future productions.
The Music Man is such a timeless and beloved part of American musical theatre. There are so many wonderful songs and such a clever, engaging and ultimately satisfying plot. I remember so many details from the movie version, and the EDMT production was true to all the best that I remembered. But then there was the choreography. Could the movie that I think I remember so well have had such intricate, precise, energetic, creative, and ultimately exhilarating dancing? It couldn’t possibly have. The numerous dance routines in this show – and their brilliant execution – showed once again why El Dorado Musical Theatre offers some of the best entertainment in the Sacramento region – with consistently professional standards.
Do yourself a favor, and see this show before its short run ends. It is a faithful presentation of an American classic, and it has all the charm of the show you remember. And if you’ve never seen it, how I envy the delight you will experience in seeing The Music Man for the first time.