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Paulanne Simmons

The Music Man Still Marches in Step

The Music Man
Directed by Jerry Zaks
Winter Garden Theatre
1534 Broadway
Opened Feb. 10, 2022
Reviewed by Paulanne Simmons Feb. 18, 2022

Meredith Wilson, who was born in Mason City, Iowa and played the flute and piccolo in John Philip Sousa’s band as a young man, certainly knew what he was doing when he wrote The Music Man over fifty years ago. Perhaps that’s why this is one musical that can never become dated, as proven by the current revival starring Sutton Foster and Hugh Jackman.

This is a classically perfect musical, with a compelling mixture of songs (ballads, patter songs, marches, dances), two likeable lovers, adorable children, a good deal of farce and some excellent observations on human nature. All a director has to do is work with the material and let it shine. Which is exactly what Jerry Zaks does in this production.

Of course, Zaks got a lot of help from the ever-charming Hugh Jackman and the ebullient Sutton Foster. Obviously, Harold and Marian were made for each other, and we don’t even need the intertwined melodies of “Goodnight, My Someone” and “Seventy-Six Trombones” to prove it.

Jefferson Mays is up to his usual high jinx as Mayor Shinn, the only holdout in River City who refuses to be charmed by Harold Hill and his make-believe band. And Jayne Houdyshell is appropriately preposterous as his wife, who quickly succumbs to Harold’s flattery.

Warren Carlyle has given the traditional choreography a modern shot in the arm, aided by Brian MacDevitt’s well-coordinated lighting design. The battle of the books in the library scene makes split-second coordination look easy. And Santo Loquasto has dressed the cast in small town clothing that nonetheless dazzles, and put everyone in a sumptuous set for our enjoyment.

The Music Man has an overture, a huge ensemble, scenes that are funny and scenes that are sad, and a happy ending. What more could anyone want in a musical?

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