By Dee Jae Cox
“You pile up enough tomorrows, and you’ll find you’re left with nothing but a lot of empty yesterdays. I don’t know about you, but I’d like to make today worth remembering.” And so says one of the most memorable Con Men in American theater, Professor Harold Hill, who brings a big con to small town Iowa in Meredith Wilson’s, “The Music Man,” currently in production at Palm Canyon Theatre.
Meredith’s, “The Music Man,” first produced on stage in 1957 was the winner of 5 Tony Awards, including best musical. It’s the story of ‘Professor’ Harold Hill, (performed by veteran actor Paul Grant,) who is a con artist and sales man posing as a boys’ band organizer who sells band instruments and uniforms to the naïve townsfolk of 1912 River City, Iowa. Though some themes are timeless, con men present themselves big and bold in contemporary times as well, which is what makes ‘The Music Man,’ a classic. Hill’s plan is to collect the money and skip town before it is revealed that he can’t carry a musical note in a bucket. His plan is about to be spoiled by music teacher Marian Paroo, who is on to Hill’s game, when she finds herself falling for the con man after she sees the actual good his ruse is doing for her family and the town.
Classic songs such as ’Seventy-six Trombones,’ ‘Ya Got Trouble (Right Here in River City) and ‘Til There Was You,’ performed by a large, but well coordinated cast, will have you smiling and tapping your foot right along with the familiar melodies.
Se Layne, as Marian Paroo, has a voice that is the highlight of the show. Strong and pitch perfect, she is captivating as the intellectual woman, whose determination to confront the conman, is thwarted when an unexpected attraction sidelines her goal.
The Youth Ensemble in this show is an amazing group of young people. Their singing, dancing and facial expressions kept me smiling throughout most of the evening.
Morgana Corelli, as Mrs Paroo, is a gem in any production and seems to bring a first class performance to the stage. Stan Jensen, as Mayor Shinn, was engaging and entertaining and provided an over abundance of personality for the show.
Derik Shopinski, in a dual role as Costume designer and choreographer brought an element of professionalism and class to the production that can’t be overstated. His costumes were simply breathtaking and the choreography filled the theater, literally, as the large cast made use of every inch of theatre space. It can’t be easy to direct a cast of over forty actors, but Steve Fisher managed to pull it off with great success. And hats off to the wonderful live trio band, Steven Smith (Piano), Larry Holloway (Bass), and Ken French (Drums) who accompanied this performance beautifully.
It should be noted that only a single production, out of twelve, was written by a female playwright for this upcoming season, though as with most shows presented by the Palm Canyon Theatre, The Music Man, is most certainly another feather in their cap.
The Music Man is currently in production through October 9th, at the Palm Canyon Theatre, located at 538 North Palm Canyon Drive in Palm Springs.
For Reservations: Box Office: 760.323.5123 – www.palmcanyontheatre.org
Dee Jae Cox is a playwright, director and producer. She is the Cofounder and Artistic Director for The Los Angeles Women’s Theatre Project and the host of the hit radio show, “California Woman 411.”