Date published: 12 June 2008
The Music man is in town and a railway carriage brings this popular Meredith Willson musical to The Gracie fields Theatre. On the train to River City is Harold Hill, the charming, smooth-talking scam artist who plans to form a band with all the kids of the town.
Singing the catchy tune Ya Got Trouble, Gary Davis with the Chorus brings the show to life as he offers his alternative to the children of River City, so they don't get caught up in the gambling of the newly opened pool hall. Though the citizens of the town take a liking to the energetic fellow, there are a few looming problems. First, Mayor Shinn played by the experienced Jack Sunderland is against the idea of starting a children's band. Secondly Hill isn't a music teacher and isn't interested in forming a band at all, but rather taking their money and hightailing it out of town.
Hill also takes a liking to Marian played by Anne Birchenough, the town librarian whose reserved nature and expressive face make her a strong character. Marian's mother, Mrs. Paroo played by Mal Fidler and the mayor's old-fashioned wife played by Ann Stubbs quickly acquire a fondness for Hill. Harold explains his dreams for the children's band with the well-known song Seventy-Six Trombones joined by a rousing chorus. The town jumps at the idea, but Mayor Shinn demands to see Hill's teaching credentials, sending a group of four easily distracted men (the famous Barbershop Quartet) to scout him out. Marian the librarian helps Hill, and all scenarios lead to a conclusion that all will enjoy and appreciate.
The songs and storyline are clever and creative, This production thrives because of this hardworking cast. Gary Davis also directs this show and the barbershop quartet is just ridiculous enough to be funny, and almost make one forget he's the bad guy.
The company is made stronger by the talented group of children in the cast including Ashley Ratchford as Winthrop and Kayleah Buckley as Amaryllis. Marion herself becomes lovelier as the show goes on, and compliments the swindler Harold Hill very well.
The Music Man is a pleasant way to spend an evening, and it reminds you the oldies can still provide quality entertainment. When it comes to delivering a solid night of fun and enjoyment, Rochdale AOS won't be singing Ya Got Trouble with this show.
Rochdale Amateur Operatic Society
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