The Music Man heads to Smithfield

pseligson@newsobserver.comNovember 8, 2013 

  • The Music Man When: 8 p.m. Nov. 15-16 and 3 p.m. Nov. 17. Where: Paul A. Johnston Auditorium at Johnston Community College, 245 College Road, Smithfield. Tickets: $18. Call 919-209-2099.

The Neuse Little Theatre will continue its season of comedy with a classic many can hum along to: “The Music Man.”

“You will be singing these songs forever,” said Theressa Rose, who plays the lead female role, librarian Marian Paroo. “The songs are fun. It leaves you with such a good feeling. That’s part of our 40th season this year – bringing the gift of laughter and the gift of a smile to our audiences.”

“The Music Man” is about con man Harold Hill, who arrives in River City, Iowa, and tells the residents he wants to start a marching band. All they have to do is pay for the equipment and uniforms.

Hill’s plan is to run off with the money, but he falls in love with the librarian, Marian, and changes his mind.

“Love will do you in every time,” said director Ruth Mills.

The con man’s plan is to “teach” the children with the “Think System.”

“You think the song, therefore you can play it,” Mills said. “He doesn’t think it works either.”

But the technique works well enough for the children’s parents, who end up happy with Hill’s band, even if their children aren’t the best musicians.

“They all think he’s a terrible person; he’s not really able to do this,” Mills said. “But what happens is he really does it.”

The Neuse Little Theatre last staged “The Music Man” in 1991. This year’s production coincides with the musical’s 50th anniversary.

Rose, a nine-year veteran of NLT shows, said this production is different than the theater’s others because of its size.

“The difference is that it’s so big,” she said.

The show has a cast of about 50 people, ranging in age from 6 to 87 years old. Local high school bands will march in for the show’s finale. And with a larger venue at Johnston Community College, the musical will have large set pieces that fly in from above.

“I think that most people have a good time in these casts… but this entire cast is so excited to be a part of this, and you can see it in every rehearsal,” Rose said.

John Clifton plays Harold Hill, the con man. He normally works with Center Stage Theatre in Goldsboro. He connected with the NLT during a production of “A Christmas Carol.”

Clifton said he and his wife, who is also in the musical, feel welcomed by NLT.

“We’ve gained some new friends,” he said. “We’ve just had a ball over here. It’s been a very good experience.”

This is Clifton’s third time in “The Music Man” and second time playing Harold Hill, which he last did about 20 years ago.

Clifton said “The Music Man” is the classic American musical.

“To me it embodies American theater over the years,” he said. “This is the best one for capturing the heart and soul of America, plus good values. It’s such a fun show.”

The musical opens Friday, Nov. 15, in the Paul A. Johnston Auditorium at Johnston Community College, 245 College Road, Smithfield.

Seligson: 919-836-5768

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