Strong female characters shine in “The Music Man”

By Rachelle Hughes

Iron County Today

In a play full of flashy and fun characters, the women actors stole the show during Cedar Valley Community Theatre’s opening production of “The Music Man” on June 1 in the Heritage Theater.

When fast talking salesman Harold Hill (Randy Seely) comes to River City, Iowa he scams and transforms a whole town as he convinces everyone to buy instruments and uniforms for a children’s band. But he is not the professor of music he claims to be and there are plenty of town members and one traveling salesman, Charlie Cowell (Michael Bahr), who see through the “professor’s” act and they may just ruin his scam. Harold tries to cozy up to the local music teacher, Marian Paroo, but she is a tough nut to crack. She can make or break his success in River City and he desperately tries to win her trust while he makes sale after sale. He has promised to teach the children how to play the band instruments, but he plans to be long gone once the uniforms and instruments arrive. Love has other plans.

Meredith Wilson’s classical musical is filled to the brim in CV’s production with a cast of over 50 local talented actors and the women actors are owning the stage. I have never loved Marian, played by Emily Dimond, quite as much as I did in this production. A strong and beautiful voice and plenty of sass, Dimond delivers a Marian that fills the stage with personality. Her mother, played by Bonnie Nielsen, is also quite a scene stealer and Nielsen plays a confident and playful Mrs. Paroo.

Perhaps the most delightful surprise were the Ladies of River City led by the Mayor’s Wife, Eulalie Shinn (Julie Griffin). They were funny, endearing and full of character. Griffins’s Eulalie was a master of expression and her entourage was no less expressive. They did a fantastic job with their rendition of the classic song “Pickalittle (Talk-a-Litttle).” Their counterparts, the school board members that form a barbershop quartet also bring a delightful musical element to the show.

As a whole, the cast delivered some wonderful numbers. There was a beautiful blending of voices with this ensemble, making numbers like “Shipoopi” and “The Wells Fargo Wagon” fill the theater with the iconic sound that makes this musical one of my all-time favorites. Throughout the musical, members of the Orchestra of Southern Utah kept toes tapping with their live music accompanying the play. This is a musical highly reliant on children cast members and it was fun to see some of this area’s young talent filling out the cast.

CV always surprises with their ability to pull off fantastic scenery out of a community theatre budget. “The Music Man” was no exception and they offered up a bright scenic and costume tableau full of early 1900 Midwest city charm and ruffles, lace, bows and suspenders.

While there were a few sleepy moments in this play I am hoping the energy of the cast will increase with each performance, because “The Music Man” is all about fast talking, intense and passionate characters. However, each season, Cedar Valley Community Theatre gets a little bit better and it becomes harder to remember that these cast members are volunteers in a community theatre production. I continue to look forward to their productions full of actors who dance and act and sing for the sheer love of live theatre.

“The Music Man” will run through June 9 at the Heritage Center Theater at 7:30 pm. Tickets are available at the Heritage Center Theater box office.

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