CELIA IPIOTIS REVIEWS 'THE MUSIC MAN'
"Yes Sir, Yes Sir" The Music Man is back on Broadway high- stepping to Meredith Wilson's irrepressible musical. Full of vim and bluster, Professor Hill transforms the citizens of River City, Iowa from skeptics to optimists on an innocently sunny day in 1912.
Set in its ways, River City residents suspect all strangers, yet Professor Hill, the unscrupulous salesman, charms his way through town, sweeping the librarian off her feet and transforming a young boys life.
This heartwarming tale rides on the talents of musical theater royalty, Hugh Jackman (Professor Hill) and Sutton Foster (Marian the librarian). Enjoying the audience's loving embrace, Jackman slides into River City mesmerizing everyone from the politicians and town elders to the young people and the straight-laced librarian.
As important as any character, the music, songs and dance numbers carpet the show with joyous melodies and movement sequences. By amassing an outstanding group of dancers, choreographer Warren Carlyle elicits extra dance mileage out of the whole cast.
All the beloved musical gems chime in from the clickety-clack of the train barreling into Sioux City to young folks erupting in dances dislodging the library's quiet and ending with the ecstatic tribe of school kids strutting to the joyous "Seventy-Six Trombones."
Working in tandem with noted Broadway director Jerry Zachs, Carlyle's choreography enlivens the production. Each musical number suggests a different dance genre demanding a high level of technical expertise. Multiple spins erupt into leaps landing in perfect balletic fifth positions or polyrhythmic tap sequences tumble into athletic flips with added twists and kicks.
More than the original choreographer, Oona White, Carlye manufactures an environment of constant motion. In the library scene, dancers are moving on no fewer than four discrete levels--the desks, balcony, book shelves and check-out counters. Heart-stopping leaps rip from the rafters propelling dancers into the arms of a partner for a few swings around the room, ending in tidy foot shuffles.
This is probably a good time to mention David Chase's sizable contribution with the vocal and dance arrangements and Patrick Vaccariello, the conductor of a fine pit band.
A solid cast includes high caliber actors like Jefferson Mays as Mayor Shin and his wife, Eulalie Shinn (Jayne Houdyshell. Marian's Irish mother (Marie Mullen) deploys wicked winks while the woefully shy, heart-stopping Winthrop (Benjamin Pajak) blossoms under the spell of Mr. Hill.
The Music Man at the Winter Garden Theatre delivers some much needed musical theater therapy.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Celia Ipiotis