Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Maltz Jupiter Theatre: The Music Man (3 reviews)

Maltz Jupiter Theatre opened its production of The Music Man on November 27, 2012.
This classic American musical takes us on a toe-tapping adventure with fast-talking salesman Professor Harold Hill, who convinces the townspeople of River City, Iowa that they need a band, instruments and uniforms. His plans to skip town with their money comes to a crashing halt when he falls in love and has to face the music. With unforgettable songs such as "Til There Was You," and "Seventy-six Trombones," this Tony Award-winning sensation is a treat for the entire family.
Mark Martino directed a cast that included Matt Loehr, Mandy Bruno Irene Adjan, Shayla Benoit, Beth Dimon, John Felix, Dennis O’Bannion, K.C. Fredericks, Jaye Johnson, Rachel Lomax, Anna McNeely, Paul Castree,  Richard Costa, Don Rey , Joshua Woodie, Aaron Simons, and Evan J. Carlson.

Hap Erstein reviewed for Palm Beach ArtsPaper:
Chances are your first impression of Meredith Willson’s The Music Man is not of the dancing. Unless you see the new hyper-kinetic production at the Maltz Jupiter Theatre...  (with) the services of charismatic, nimble Matt Loehr as Professor Harold Hill, along with an ensemble of light-on-their-feet performers... it would be a waste to not dust off the show’s cobwebs with a new emphasis on dance.
Loehr dominates the production, as Harold Hill should, but the rest of the cast is also first-rate. Mandy Bruno (Marian), a six-year veteran of the daytime soap Guiding Light, has a beautiful soprano voice, showcased well on such numbers as My White Knight and Till There Was You. Elizabeth Dimon plays her mother, prodding her at every opportunity to let down her guard to romance. As the mayor’s wife, Anna McNeely makes a daffy dilettante and Dennis O’Bannion, Sullivan’s associate choreographer, turns the superfluous Shipoopi into a showstopper.
Yes, you’ve probably seen The Music Man before, but the Maltz’s take on this classic show will put a hop in your step and a smile on your face.
Bill Hirschman reviewed for Florida Theater On Stage:
...this snappy, polished edition of Meredith Willson’s masterpiece, incisively helmed by Mark Martino and choreographer Shea Sullivan, is not some retro throwback or musty museum piece. It is delivered as fresh and honest as if someone had written it last month rather than the 1950s, much as the Maltz did last season with Hello, Dolly!
...no review should go another paragraph without honoring Matt Loehr, the Carbonell-winning song-and-dance man from the Maltz’s Crazy for You last year. Exuding viral joy, Loehr not only inhabits the hornswaggling charmer of a con man Harold Hill whose heart gets caught in the door along with his foot, but he makes the part so indelibly his own that he banishes the memory of the iconic Robert Preston.
Bruno’s Marian may start off a bit tamped down (you wish for a little more longing in “Goodnight, My Someone”), but when she caresses her crystalline soprano around “My White Knight,” the denied passion – not just for love but for life — pours out of her.
Equally vivid are Elizabeth Dimon’s warm, easily flattered Irish mother Mrs. Paroo and John Felix’s stuffed shirt Mayor Shinn tongue-tied in malaprops and convoluted aphorisms. Close behind is Anna McNeely’s small town doyenne Mrs, Shinn, Aaron Simons’ strong-voiced Winthrop, and Dennis O’Bannion, a dynamic dancer who also portrays Hill’s pal, Marcellus and shines in leading “Shipoopi.”
The cast of 30 including nine children is nearly note perfect, and, incredibly, every single solitary word of Willson’s witty lyrics were enunciated clearly, from the mass choral numbers to Hill’s patter songs.
South Florida should be grateful that the Maltz is increasingly putting its talent and resources toward plays like its season opener Amadeus and later this winter, Doubt.  But Hello, Dolly, Cabaret and now The Music Man are solidly in the Matlz’s wheelhouse. The citizenry of River City aren’t going to be the only ones being seduced and falling in love each night.
Christine Dolen reviewed for The Miami Herald:
For folks who live in Miami-Dade or Broward counties, a trip north to the Maltz Jupiter Theatre is a journey, a drive for art’s sake. But if you go to see the Maltz’s just-opened production of Meredith Willson’s The Music Man, you’ll discover what a theater at the top of its game can do with an American musical classic.
Vibrantly directed by Mark Martino and dazzlingly choreographed by Shea Sullivan, this sojourn into the world of con man Harold Hill is just about perfect, start to finish. The cast, designers and musicians work together brilliantly to bring a musical theater gem to life.
Leading man Matt Loehr is probably the best dancer ever to have played “Professor” Harold Hill, so his riveting moves and physical grace become another weapon in a con man’s tool kit.
The adult cast members, a mixture of New York and South Florida actors, are uniformly strong, and the nine kids from the Maltz Conservatory fit right in, particularly Aaron Simons as Marian’s lisping little brother Winthrop. Loehr and Bruno have nice chemistry as the on-the-make Harold and wary Marian. He’s the stronger dancer, she’s the clarion-voiced singer, and both performances are award-worthy.

Bravo too to the many cast members who deservedly claim their moments in the spotlight, including John Felix as the malapropism-prone Mayor Shinn, Anna McNeely as his eccentric wife Eulalie, Elizabeth Dimon as Marian’s widowed Irish mother, and Paul Castree, Richard Costa, Don Rey and Joshua Woodie as the once-bickering businessmen united in barbershop harmony
The Music Man plays at the Maltz Jupiter Theatre through December 16, 2012.

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