The Music Man, Central Wyoming College’s spring musical, is a light-hearted throwback to a simpler time of brass bands and Fourth of July Americana.
CWC Theater Director Mike Myers said the story is based on the author Meredith Willson’s boyhood home of Mason City, Iowa, and says it is a musical that has withstood the test of time.
The large cast takes audiences back to the forgotten world of passenger trains, picnics in the park and barbershop quartets as it presents the Tony Award-winning show Feb. 28, March 1 and March 2 in the Robert A. Peck Arts Center Theatre.
Myers said Willson was born in 1902, and the sights and sounds and the people of small town Iowa would remain with him all his life. “Much of his childhood influenced the feel of the musical,” Myers said, suggesting that Willson’s childhood was frozen in time.
The director gave the cast a dictionary of lost-to-history terms and products used in the play, such as firkin, a small barrel used to store butter, and Sen-Sen, an agent used to prevent bad breath.
While Myers recognizes there is no real theme to the show, the story has been well-received over the years. The show’s main character is a con man intent on bilking the town by selling them musical instruments and uniforms to start a boys’ band. Instead, Harold Hill, who has no musical talent, uses it to transform the sleepy and rude townspeople into energetic and positive people.
“Harold brings a little joy into their lives,” Myers said of the central character. “The Music Man is one of the top favorite musicals in America with multiple hit songs (76 Trombones, Trouble Right Here in River City, and ‘til There Was You), choreography, comedy and romance.”
Myers gives a lot of credit to his production staff and cast for staging this monumental play. Musical director Robert Hussa is working with a large number of singers and ensembles, and has assembled a 19-piece orchestra to accompany the singers from the wings of the stage. Allison Steele is doing a “huge amount” of choreography with inexperienced dancers, and set builder Alex Henderson is working overtime constructing a large unit set so the cast has time to rehearse with the set pieces.
“The cast comes in almost every night and on weekends,” Myers said of the mostly community actors, who range in age from 8 to 80. “They have put in a lot of hours. It is a big commitment.”
He also appreciates that Riverton High School band director Aric Hagaman is loaning period-style band uniforms to the show, and salon owner Leslie Larsen is sharing her expertise cutting, coloring and styling hair and wigs at every dress rehearsal and performance. These patrons are saving the theater department thousands of dollars. “I couldn’t do it without the community,” Myers said.
The show is rated G and the material and subject matter is suitable for all audiences. “It is a good family show,” he said, suggesting children would really enjoy this musical.
The director reminds theater patrons that shows this year will only run over one weekend. The Music Man has a 7:30 p.m. performance on Friday, Feb. 28, a 2:30 p.m. matinee and 7:30 p.m. show on Saturday, March 1 and a 2:30 p.m. matinee on Sunday, March 2.
Tickets, $12 for adults and $10 for youth and seniors, are available at the Arts Center Box Office; open weekdays from 3-6 p.m. or online at www.tickets.cwc.edu. The box office phone number is (307) 855-2002 or 800-865-0190.