AAP Theater Review
By HOO SOOK HWANG
MINNEAPOLIS (July 6, 2015) — I didn’t know what to expect from the production of the Music Man that opened at the Guthrie Theater on June 20th and runs through August 23rd. I had never seen the original play or the 1962 film about what happens to a community when a con man, posing as a music teacher, tries to sell music lessons and band uniforms for the boys of the town.
The production included an amazing variety of highly acclaimed work, from the romantic “There Were Bells” to the rousing “76 Trombones.” The songs were beautifully performed and filled me with delight. The music was beautifully orchestrated and the dance numbers by, Joe Chvala, were creatively choreographed. The cast was very strong in acting, singing and dancing, a remarkable trifecta.
My favorite part of the musical, however, was the incredible abilities of the performers who were children. From start to finish, the magnificent young talent was woven into every scene of the production. The children made the musical come to life and reminded me how important performing arts are to young people as they grow and develop. Once again, the Guthrie Theater created an emotional experience in which children astounded us with their overwhelming gifts.
The story line had a specific focus regarding the interplay of human chaos and connection within community. When the music man came to town, it created a political climate that upset the culture of “We want things to remain the way they’ve always been.” Soon the community members tussled with ideas of provocative change and taking risks that as a group they were unfamiliar with. The music man’s empty promises and lies about creating a community band caused a serious rift between those who believed in him and those who did not. In the end it is their faith and belief in themselves that results in the growth of the community, not the actions of the confidence trickster.
More than the machinations of the adults, however, it was the performances by the marching band, young dancers and school age soloists that pulled at my heartstrings. The story line of the Music Man validated the already deep faith I have in young people to help those of us who are older to expand our minds. Despite the overwhelming role that political cynicism plays in our lives, people’s propensity to change old habits for love and relationship continue to be a provocative incentive.
I was awestruck by the high level of innovative intelligence that is required for directors, cast and artistic staff to integrate a wide variety of incredible competence into one show. It was a night that allowed me to marvel in the natural and developed abilities of skilled performers. This highly successful production definitely pulled at my heart and reminded me that human beings are innovative and capable through their connection with one another.