In only a few days, Valley audiences will be treated to something very special as The Phoenix Symphony and Phoenix Theatre combine forces to celebrate America with one of Broadway's true masterworks. This weekend, Symphony Hall will play host to Meredith Willson's classic, beloved musical, The Music Man. Phoenix Theatre Producing/Artistic Director Michael Barnard directs and Maestro Michael Christie conducts what will be one of the most unforgettable events of the 2010-11 season.
Here is a list of the phenomenally talented cast Phoenix Theatre has assembled to recreate Willson's joyous The Music Man with The Phoenix Symphony: the principals: Walter Belcher (Marcellus Washburn), Johanna Carlisle (Mrs. Paroo), Chris Eriksen (Charlie Cowell), Rusty Ferracane (Harold Hill), Lauren Gasic (Zanetta Shin), Kaitlynn Kleinmann (Marian Paroo), Sterling Liska (Tommy Djilas), Christopher Moffit (Winthrop Paroo), David Rogers (Mayor Shinn), Tregoney Shepherd (Eulalie Shinn), Zoe Zamora (Amaryllis).
Members of the chorus: Lucas Coatney, Emily Mulligan-Ferry, Dzifa Kwaku, Christoper Moffit, Kathy Osborn, Mark Stoddard, Cydney Trent, Adam Vargas, Jodie Weiss and Toby Yatso
The Examiner talked with Rusty Ferracane, the Professor Harold Hill in this most anticipated staging.
Ferracane, so well known to Valley audiences, has appeared Off-Broadway in the American premiere of Enter the Guardsman and has also performed in theatres across the country. He has a Masters Degree in Elementary Education and teaches third grade at Madison Camelview Elementary in Phoenix. His CD, That's Life, is available at CDBaby and on ITunes. Further information on his CD and performance schedule, please check his Web Site.
Q: The Phoenix Symphony and Phoenix Theatre and The Music Man! What will the semi-staged concert be like?
A: Well, to be honest, the words semi-staged are not really in Michael Barnard's lexicon! The audience is going to get its money's worth. It is pretty much a full blown production without large scale dance numbers. The dance music has been has been cut in order for this to be considered a concert version. It's fully staged with costumes and set pieces and twenty-one people in the cast. It's going to be really exciting. I think it's a great opportunity not only for audiences in Phoenix to see this but also for the performers.
Q: What will Valley audiences see with your Harold Hill?
A: To be honest, I have never seen a stage production of The Music Man and just recently saw the movie. You can't play this role without having Robert Preston in your head. His performance is so iconic. Preston was not much of a singer. He talked through most of his songs. I am looking forward to really singing the score. There is a lot of truly great music that The Music Man sings.
I think the key to playing this character is for him to be a person who is attractive and spellbinding but he simply can't cross the line where he becomes cocky and arrogant. Hill has to be confident and charismatic. He realizes, in the end, that the town has really fallen for him and that his age-old con has miraculous worked. At that point, Hill sees that can actually accomplish something of value. Not only does the town believe in him but he also discovers that he can believe in himself.
Q: Is there anything else you would like to add about The Music Man?
A: Yes, just come see it! It's going to be really exciting. It's something that Symphony and Phoenix Theatre audiences will not be used to and we have surprises in store for them as well.
Q: What roles have you played with Phoenix Theatre?
A: Probably the one I am most proud of is Don Quixote in Man of La Mancha. I had a great time with I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change. I did My Way which was a musical revue based on Frank Sinatra and his music. Recently, I did several roles in All the More to Love. Last season, I was in Curtains where I played the detective. I really like Curtains. It has a very clever book and a great score but maybe it is just a tad too inside for some people. I enjoyed doing it. I don't recall ever having that many lines in a musical. I was going crazy up until opening night learning all those lines. So now that I am doing The Music Man, I am saying to myself, "Oh, this is nothing compared to what I had to what I went through preparing for Curtains."
Q: Do you have any favorite roles that you've played?
A: As far as musical role go, it is still Man of La Mancha. Don Quixote is the epitome of male roles in musical theater. I was honored to play it although it wreaked havoc on me. I broke out in a rash because of the spirit gum I had to wear. That was terrible! Playing him was a huge challenge that I had to tackle and was really proud of what I did with the role. I just loved it! As far as straight plays go, I played Max in Bent and I love that piece. I loved playing Joe in Actors Theatre's production of Angels in America. I was very proud to be a part of that production.
Q: Do you have any other funny/odd stage mishaps that you can share with us?
A: I won't name the theater company but I was doing a production of They're Playing Our Song. When you are rehearsing a show, you have the dimensions of the stage taped out in the rehearsal hall,. Our stage manager had mis-taped it and when we finally got on stage, we found out that we had eight feet less to work with. We had to re-do everything in two days.
Everything that could go wrong with that show went wrong. We had these rolling set pieces and one of them had a piano that I would be sitting on and they would roll me on and out and then back in. They would roll me in at the wrong time and roll me out at the wrong time. Things were breaking all over the set. It was a total nightmare.
We have this huge, massive stage that we are performing on at Symphony Hall for The Music Man. We could not possibly have that much room to rehearse in because our rehearsal hall is much smaller. We are just keeping our fingers crossed that we are going to be able to properly fit on the stage.
Q: Could you tell us about your upcoming concert at Chandler Center for the Performing Arts?
A: Craig Bohlmer did all the arrangements for it. We originally did it for a concert series at a Church in Paradise Valley. We put together a performance featuring Bohmler's music but also a variety of music ranging from Sinatra to Sondheim. It's all about Broadway tunes and basic pop standards. That's why we call it That's Life: From Sinatra to Sondheim. Some people from Chandler had come to see us perform it in Paradise Valley and wanted us to part of their concert series at Chandler Center for the Performing Arts. They are opening a renovated theater so they are doing a free concert series to commemorate its reopening. The concert will be this Sunday, September 12 at 7:30 PM.
Q: What is The Actors Group?
A: That was a theater group that I had unintentionally started many years ago. This was way back when there weren't many experimental theaters going on in town. I had wanted to do the play Bent. I thought that since no one was ever going to do it I would just do it myself. We had an avant-garde theater space called Planet Earth, a run down little theater. I got my friend Matthew Mazurofski to direct it and it became this huge success. There were so many people who thought this type of theater should be done more often in the Valley. It had really been a one-shot labor of love for me but I was convinced to continue on with The Actors Group. We did Love, Valor, Compassion, The Grapes of Wrath, David's Mother and then closed with Coming Attractions. Running the theater was financially draining. We had very little money and no financial support so we just disbanded. I don't think I enjoyed being a producer but I was really proud of the work that we did for almost two seasons.
Q: What's next for you?
A: Right now I am doing a lot of singing gigs. My Chandler concert is coming up. Hopefully, I will be auditioning and be cast in something soon.
For a more detailed history on The Music Man, see: Phoenix Theatre and the Phoenix Symphony to make beautiful music together and Michael Barnard on The Music Man.
Single tickets for The Music Man are on sale to the general public. To become a subscriber and/or to purchase tickets for this incredible evening of the best of Broadway, please call the Phoenix Symphony Box Office at (602) 495 1999 or visit them on line at their Web Site.
The Phoenix Theatre is is celebrating its extraordinary 90th season with a spectacular array of great comedy and musical entertainment. Playing now through September 19 is their amazing, smash hit opening production of Noises Off. Subscriptions and individual ticket sales for all of the Phoenix Theatre upcoming shows are available by phone at (602) 254-2151 or ON LINE.
See The Examiner rave review for Noises Off: Michael Frayn's Noises Off reviewed.
Phoenix Theatre 100 East McDowell Road Phoenix 85004
Phoenix Symphony Hall 225 East Adams Street Phoenix 85004