Posted on February 17th, 2005
By Luanne Austin, Daily News-Record
The classic musical, "The Music Man," may be one of the most fun ever to come out of Broadway. Yet the guest director of the production at Eastern Mennonite University said she thinks the show has been underrated.
"One unexplored aspect is that it’s an example of unconditional love," said L.B. Hamilton, the show’s director.
EMU will present "The Music Man" for its spring mainstage production in Lehman Auditorium. Performances begin today and run through next week.
A 45-member student cast will recreate the Broadway musical that won the New York Drama Critics’ Circle Award and nine Tony Awards. The 1962 film version received an Academy Award for Best Musical Adaptation.
Confidence man Harold Hill (Michael Dezort) arrives at staid River City intending to cheat the community with his standard scam of offering to equip and train a boy’s marching band, then skip town with the money since he has no music skill anyway. Things go awry when he falls for librarian Marian Paroo (Bethany Blouse), whom he tries to divert from exposing him while he inadvertently enriches the town with a love of music.
"It’s a satire of small-town life but with a love for the community and what lies beneath the exterior of human beings," said Hamilton.
When she was young and the music was popular, Hamilton thought "The Music Man" was "just a fun and frothy thing."
"And I thought that when I directed it before, but now I look at it with different eyes," Hamilton said. "It’s all about love, yet there is no line that says ‘I love you.’"
In the midst of all the music and dancing and fun, "they give each other love asking nothing in return, which is the highest form of love there is," she said.
Hamilton said the production also speaks to "the persona we create in order to protect our soft cores."
This comes through in the students’ performances, said Hamilton.
"I don’t have a reputation as a sentimental or warm and fuzzy director, but this is warm and fuzzy," she said.
Hamilton began her theatrical career as an actor, then worked in the film, television and recording industries. An award-winning published/produced playwright, she continues free lance work while serving as consulting director for C.L.I.M.B. Theater in Minnesota and as director of special programs for Washington Shakespeare Company (WSC) in D.C.
Performance times for "The Music Man" are 7:30 p.m. Feb. 17, 18 & 19 and Feb. 24, 25 & 26. Tickets are $10 in advance, $12 at the door, $8 non-EMU students, and $6 senior citizens and children 12 and under.
To reserve tickets, call the EMU box office at 432-4582.