Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Stage Door Theatre: The Music Man (6 reviews)

The Stage Door Theatre opened its production of The Music Man on April 29, 2011.
A con man comes to a Midwestern town with a scam using a boy's marching band program, but things don't go according to plan when he falls in love with the town librarian. One of the most famous American Musicals ever written, the award winning score includes: “Trouble in River City”, “Seventy Six Trombones” and “Till There Was You”.
Dan Kelley directed a cast that included Jonathon Van Dyke, Colleen Amaya, Max Greenberg, Juliana Simone Carrasco, Kevin Reilly, Jason Whitfield, Adam Kee, Justin Lore and Jonathan Bauchman.

Ron Levitt reviewed for ENV Magazine:
In fact, what makes this regional production so worthwhile and charming are the number of new and old names attached to this particular show. Just look at the size of this cast!    Even if you consider the show hackneyed – even old-fashioned, you will want to know more about the people in the cast.  Many are just at the start of their careers and – even some of the veterans are hopeful that  you will remember who they are. One must give Broward  Stage Door credit for  giving so many chances for recognition to  those trying to make a name for themselves, thus earning a clap of your hands or even, a standing ovation.
The main reason for such applause at  performances of  Meredith Willson’s  legendary musical is a unique combination:   astute direction by Dan Kelley, the personality of its two stars –  Jonathan Van Dyke as the fast talking Professor Harold Hill  and  Colleen Amaya as the prim librarian; an ensemble that looks as if it is enjoying each performance  — and most especially a group of young dancers/singers  and  what could be a barber shop quartet, both of whom – under the guidance of Choreographer Chrissi  Ardito –  actually steal many of the scenes in this popular show.
John Thomason reviewed for the Broward/Palm Beach New Times:
The Broward Stage Door's commitment to the show's uniqueness is commendable. Boasting a topnotch, 26-piece cast, this is a standup production from a venue that seems to be improving with age.
Jonathan Van Dyke is an exuberant, physically engaging Harold Hill...  Colleen Amaya is even better as Marian Paroo, bringing a soaring, operatic voice to Hill's prim and proper love interest.
Stage Door's set design is merely functional, as usual, but Allen Wilson's costume design evokes the Midwestern period attire with fitting nostalgia.
John Lariviere reviewed for Talkin' Broadway:
The pre-recorded instrumental tracks work well but at times are a bit tinny sounding. Because the show is about a live band, part of the joy is lost by not having live musicians.
Jonathan Van Dyke has the smooth style, good looks, and singing and dancing talents for a great Harold Hill. He is missing some of the essence of the cad in his performance, however. If we want to see Hill transformed by his love for Marion, he needs to be noticeably more manipulative or self-centered in the beginning.
Colleen Amaya
has a beautiful singing voice... She goes a bit too far in an attempt to give us a prim, upright Marian in the beginning of the show. It comes off at times as if she the actress is stiff and uptight. Van Dyke and Amaya do a good job, but are in need of minor directorial adjustments.
Missy McArdle is hysterical as Eulalie Mackecknie Shinn, and her cronies the "Pick-a-Little" ladies are a treat to watch. Kevin Reilley milks the role of Charlie Cowell, making the character so smarmy you might want to bathe. Usually the children on stage are given more credit than they might deserve because they are young and cute, but in this case both Max Greenberg as Winthrop and Juliana Simone Carrasco as Amaryllis could easily steal the show if given more scenes.
The ensemble is a joy to watch. Choreography by Chrissi Ardito uses the space and talents of the actors to the fullest... The most memorable parts of the evening are the large ensemble scenes, as they sing and dance the familiar and beloved Willson melodies.
Rod Stafford Hagwood reviewed for The Sun-Sentinel:
Yes, the production looks buttoned-down smart and goodness knows the jaunty choreography gives this old chestnut much of its gusto and gumption... If only the show could maintain the snap, crackle pop of the opening number "Rock Island," that syncopated showstopper that mimics the motion and sound of a train carrying traveling salesmen to their territories.
...what this production is a little light on the oiliness, slipperiness, and... bewitching charisma... everything is anticipated, so when Harold Hill does one of his linguistic twists... it seems practiced to perfection and thus the thrill is gone.
The blandness is broken here and there with standout performances from Colleen Amaya (a crystalline soprano) as librarian and piano teacher Marian Paroo and Michael-Alan Read (mugging shamelessly) as Marcellus Washburn. Kevin Reilley puts some much-needed risk into his characterization of Charlie Cowell, the leering, sneering salesman who tries to expose the fraudster. And child actors Max Greenberg as Winthrop and Juliana S. Carrasco effortlessly upstage almost everyone.
But the songs are as good as gold... and director Dan Kelley stages them confidently.
Roger Martin reviewed for Miami ArtZine:
Dan Kelley directed the adequate 26-member cast, and that's damning them with faint praise.  Jonathan Van Dyke as “Professor” Harold Hill has the con man's charm and a good voice, but lacks bombast and punch and so we get, as an example, “Ya Got Trouble” as a performance piece rather than a showstopper.  Colleen Amaya as Marian the Librarian has a gorgeous voice but, as so many in the cast do, treats us to some fine examples of musical comedy acting.  Indeed, one young woman in particular could make big bucks teaching mugging.  You'll spot her, don't worry.
Young Max Greenberg as the lisping Winthrop is a delight as is Juliana Simone Carrasco as Amaryllis, but these are two very young actors and there's a lot of cuteness there.
Chrissi Ardito's excellent choreography shines despite the awkwardly designed set that left the dancers with little stage space. The truly wonderful costumes are from Costume World.
The Music Man plays at The Stage Door Theatre through June 19, 2011.

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