Musical Theater Students Bring “Music Man” to Life


Jack Bell

The Paroo Family, portrayed by Sarah Darby, Natalie Cona, and Samantha Treadwell, share the stage during the “Gary, Indiana” number.

Whoosh. The curtains swiftly open, and the dimmed lights gently illuminate the stage.  A train whistle blares and the audience is greeted by actors projecting their beautiful voices during the opening number. This was the beginning of this year’s Benjamin musical, The Music Man. The abridged version of the musical was based on the 1957 Broadway hit which was also adapted into a 1962 film, both of which starred Robert Preston as the titular character.

Benjamin’s version was directed by drama teacher Mr. Bob Bayless and Musical Theater Chorus Director Mr. Andrew Winters. They employed a number of performers from their drama and musical theater classes to fill out all the roles.

All the lead characters came from our musical theatre class,” said Winters. “We only had nine people in the class, so we needed extra people to come into fill in the other parts.”

Darian Salehi
Eighth-grader Alex Bories, starring as Harold Hill, gets ready for a singing act in the musical.

The musical is about Harold Hill, a con artist who was portrayed by eighth-grader Alex Bories.  He plans to scam the people of River City, Iowa by pretending to be a music conductor, soliciting families to sign their children up for a marching band, and then leaving town with their money.

Bories enjoyed playing Professor Harold Hill. “Getting into character was really fun [because] I got to be a crook and steal stuff,” he said.

The librarian, Marian Paroo, played by eighth-grader Sarah Darby, assumes Harold is a scammer. However, after seeing how much more confident and outgoing her shy, lisp-stricken younger brother, Winthrop (played by seventh grader Natalie Cona), is after receiving his cornet, Marian sees Harold in a new light. Harold then begins to develop a relationship with Marian and becomes conflicted as to whether he should skip town or stay with her.

Darby enjoyed portraying Marian and all of the preparation that goes along in putting a musical together. “I’ve had [experience since] I was in Annie last year,” said Darby.“[Performing in The Music Man] was a lot of fun. I [enjoyed] the costumes, makeup, and [singing].”

Fellow salesman Charlie Cowell (Xan Blount) exposes Harold as a fraud and Harold is arrested. However, when the uniforms come in and the townspeople see their children marching and playing Beethoven’s Minuet in G (albeit poorly), they are overjoyed and Harold is released.

The class began rehearsing for the musical since September, all leading up to the three showings, all of which were held in the Barker Performing Arts Center. The first performance was on the morning of April 10 for the lower school students. Another show was held on the evening of April 11 for the TBS community, and, finally, the afternoon of April 12 at the end of the school day for the middle school students, all of whom seemed to enjoy the musical.

“The actors looked well prepared,” said seventh-grader Jack Guagliano. “The actors were very talented and knew most of their lines.”

Jack Bell
Seventh-grader Xan Blount, representing Charlie Cowell, tells the mayor and all the people of the town that Harold Hill is a fraud.

Some students thought that it was difficult to understand the plot, though, because they had never seen the musical on the stage or on film.  “Overall it was a good play with great actors, it was just [that] some information about the setting and character development was lost through translation,” said eighth-grader Lexi Lower. “Perhaps if it was [based off] a more popular movie, more students would have understood more of what was happening, but many students have not seen The Music Man.”

Overall, however, the reactions were positive.

“We got great reviews from everybody,” said Bayless. “The [audience] enjoyed it.” Bayless was also quick to point out that the production was a team effort. “The sets and the artwork were Ms. McAllister, the singing was Mr. Winters, and the dancing was Mrs. Ramirez,” he said.

“It’s a lot of hard work, but once you see the final product on the stage, it’s very gratifying,” said Winter. “It makes me happy to see the [students] enjoying it.”