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Black Concert Version of 'Meredith Willson’s The Music Man' in Newark & Red Bank

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New Jersey Performing Arts Center and Two River Theater have joined to present a concert version of Meredith Willson’s The Music Man, the classic Tony Award-winning musical, directed by Obie Award-winner Robert O’Hara, with music direction by Kenny J. Seymour.

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America’s favorite musical about big brass bands and small-town spirit will be performed by an African-American cast. The River City, Iowa setting will be based on historical accounts of black communities established during the Great Migration as former slaves moved across the U.S. following the Civil War.

There will be six performances at Two River Theater in Red Bank from March 13-16 and four performances at NJPAC in Newark from March 21-23.

Isaiah Johnson will play Harold Hill and Stephanie Umoh will play Marian Paroo. Johnson has appeared on Broadway in Peter and the Starcatcher and The Merchant of Venice with Al Pacino. Umoh played Sarah in the 2009 Broadway revival of Ragtime.

Also featured in the cast are Kevin Boseman (A Chorus Line at Paper Mill Playhouse) as Winthrop; Lawrence Clayton (Jean Valjean in the 25th Anniverary US Tour of Les Misérables) as Mayor Shinn; Bernard Dotson (Chicago Broadway revival) as Charlie Cowell; Kevin R. Free (Once On This Island at Paper Mill Playhouse) as Marcellus; Trent Armand Kendall (Into the Woods Broadway revival) as Olin Britt; Destinee Rea (Hairspray with Theatre Under the Stars) as Amaryllis; Myra Lucretia Taylor (Nine Broadway revival, As You Like It at Two River Theater) as Mrs. Paroo; Aurelia Williams (Once On This Island at Paper Mill Playhouse) as Ethel Toffelmier; and NaTasha Yvette Williams (A Night with Janis Joplin) as Eulalie Mackechnie Shinn.

The Music Man won the 1957 Tony Award for Best Musical and the first Grammy Award for Best Original Cast Album. Winner of Best Musical at the 1957 Tony Awards, The Music Man tells the story of con man Harold Hill, who falls for piano teacher and librarian Marian Paroo in the summer of 1912 as he bamboozles the conservative townsfolk of River City into financing a marching band. “Professor” Hill has to choose between the promise of romance and a quick getaway as his scheme begins to unravel.

The memorable score, which won the first Grammy Award for Best Original Cast Album, includes “Seventy-six Trombones,” “Ya Got Trouble,” “Marian the Librarian,” “Goodnight, My Someone” and “Till There Was You.”

Performances in NJPAC’s Victoria Theater take place Friday, March 21 at 8 pm; Saturday, March 22 at 3 pm and 8 pm; Sunday, March 23 at 3 pm. Tickets, on sale now, are $59.50 and $69.50 and can be purchased at www.njpac.org, by calling 1-888-GO-NJPAC or by visiting the box office at One Center Street in Downtown Newark.

Performances in Two River’s Rechnitz Theater are Thursday, March 13 at 8 pm; Friday, arch 14 at 8 pm; Saturday, March 15 at 3pm and 8 pm; and Sunday, March 16 at 3 pm and 7 pm. Tickets starting at $20 are available from 732.345.1400 or www.tworivertheater.org. $20 tickets may be partial view.

New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC), located in downtown Newark, New Jersey, is among the largest performing arts centers in the United States. Visit www.njpac.org or call 1-888-GO-NJPAC for more information.

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