On the heels of its critically acclaimed staging of “Annie,” this historic gem of a theater continues its recently earned reputation of bringing top-notch live performances to life in the western suburbs.
From the first scene, set on a train filled with traveling salesman, the stage is set for an energetic night of live theater.
As the train bounces and bumps along the rails, these salesmen let us know with great skill, and a lot of jiggling, about the lore of our hero, Professor Harold Hill.
It is Hill, played by Stef Tovar, that will arrive in River City with a bill of goods to sell and a scheme to attach himself to the town folks’ money, yet not to the town, nor to the folks
Of course, anyone familiar with this musical by Meredith Willson knows that Hill has the reputation of being a highly skilled flim-flam man who annoys his competing salesmen who claim he “ doesn't even know the territory.”
Under the direction and choreography of Rachel Rockwell, who recently directed the holiday smash-hit “Annie” at the Paramount, this production shines.
When Harold shows up in town and concocts his scheme to create a boys band, sell instruments and uniforms to the residents of River City, and then skip town with their money, it’s intriguing and hilarious to see his mind and talent at work with his fast-talking song, “Ya Got Trouble.”
But Hill meets his match in the local librarian, Marian Paroo, played to perfection by Emily Rohm. And what a match it is. She’s smart, strong, independent and is no slouch with a song.
Rohm’s beautiful soprano voice and at-home ease on the stage make her a standout in this production.
Rockwell’s take on the show might seem a bit different from what has been seen in before. That’s good. In this show, we see a more sympathetic view of Harold.
Tovar’s portrayal of Harold shows us more a man that is in search of something (although he might not know it), than one who makes a giant transformation from huckster to valued citizen.
His voice is no match for Rohm’s, but it works. The two complement each other in much the way they do in their roles.
There are many great performances in the show, including the one delivered by Johnny Rabe as the lovable Winthrop, Marian’s young brother. Rabe was recently cast as Ralphie in the Broadway hit, “A Christmas Story, the Musical.”
Overall, the cast comes together to give a stunning and often hilarious performance with a magical set by the Paramount Scene Shop. The orchestra in the pit, under the direction of Michael Mahler, is also a great asset to the show.
“The Music Man” is a wonderful G-rated family theater experience. It runs through Feb. 3 at the Paramount Theatre in Aurora. For tickets and information visit the Paramount Theatre website or call 630-896-6666.