The Music Man
Sometimes, the venue enhances the production. That’s the case with the Woodland Opera House production of The Music Man.
The story is set in River City, Iowa, circa 1912, and the score is anchored by the iconic song “Seventy-Six Trombones.” And it’s staged in a beautiful 1895 theater, where John Philip Sousa and his band actually performed.
When the red velvet curtain rises for the second act, revealing four dapper gents in straw hats, singing barbershop harmony (and ladies in gaslight-era ankle-length dresses and ornate hats), you get glimmers of entertainment presented on this stage 100 years ago. Such blissful moments aside, this production is well-crafted community theatre all the way, with a mix of savvy veterans, energetic (but less experienced) adults, cute kids and limber teens. There are a few missed notes and muffed lines, but that goes with the territory.
Rodger McDonald (as Professor Harold Hill) has professional credentials—he was in this summer’s Music Circus production of 1776. McDonald can do the charming rogue with a gleam in his eye extremely well (as he did in River Stage’s Urinetown).
Director Angela Shellhammer marshals a huge cast through multiple crowd scenes, incorporating dance and gymnastics, too. Costumer Laurie Everly-Klassen and four assistants probably wore out a sewing machine preparing the vintage duds. Laura Snell directs an ensemble of brass, strings, winds and keyboard.