Theater Review: 'The Music Man' at Musical Theater Village
|The original Broadway poster for "The Music Man"|
Anyone who sometimes long for a time when things were simpler, towns were smaller, and people were more polite to each other, take a drive down to the Musical Theatre Village in Irvine, who is currently hosting a very nostalgic and sweet community production of Meredith Wilson's The Music Man.
The story is about con man Harold Hill, attempting to swindle money from River City in 1912 Iowa by falsely offering to form a boy's marching band. It's kind of like that episode of The Simpsons where the entire town sang a song about a monorail. Same thing happens here, except it's a song about trombones.
Of course, unlike that episode, something good actually comes from the whole affair. In the process, he falls in love with the school librarian. And you can probably guess the ending from there. It's not the most riveting of story lines, relying on the small-town nostalgia to carry it--yet it works, given that the actors are playing for their family and community members. And they performed it well, from the small children to the older actors, replicating that small-town, "everyone knows your name" feel in the audience.
The jokes are a bit dated and the songs definitely have an early 20th century influence to them, but then if someone you knew were on stage, you wouldn't care. And that seems to be the sentiment in the audience. Or if you have a special love for small towns, then you would definitely appreciate much of the references and archetypes.
The thing that was a bit awkward about the performances was the lack of a live band playing the music. Hearing the actors sing to a grainy recording that was sometimes too loud took away from the moment. At some parts, the song and dialogue diction needed a bit of work.
Still, the little child actors in the play were so adorable in their dresses and little suits that it nearly makes any critiques of the musical moot. The Music Man can easily make you long for those days when women wore long, lacy dresses with matching flowered hats and men wore dress pants, ties and pink in public.
"THE MUSIC MAN" AT MUSICAL THEATRE VILLAGE. 36-C MAUCHLY, IRVINE 92618. 949-753-1966. FRI 7:30 P.M.; SAT 2 P.M. AND 7:30 P.M.; SUN 2 P.M. THROUGH AUG. 16