Theater is back, meaning you’ll have to suffer through these reviews full of “inside theater” jokes again. Since I have only recently removed the dust cover from his trusty standup typewriter, oiled the gears and run to the dry goods store for fresh white-out, forgive any off the less polished lyrical puns below.
I add all this before you get on board so you’ll know the territory.
Theatre3 is one of the first local theater companies to stage a live production with their production of the legendary musical “The Music Man,” now playing at Union Coffee at 3705 Cedar Springs Road through Sunday, June 27 and at Texas Discovery Garden at 3601 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. on Wednesday, June 30 through Sunday, July 4 (musicmandfw.com).
In its original Broadway run, it won Best Musical as well as four other Tony Awards and ran for 1,357 performances. The film version, starring Robert Preston (who reprised the role from the Broadway production), was nominated for six Oscars and won the Golden Globe for Best Motion Picture — Musical and Comedy. If those weren’t big enough shoes for Theatre3 to fill, they have also been restricted by the local actor’s union from performing in their space and are doing outdoor productions throughout the run.
So what about Theatre3’s production in and of itself? One appreciates director Joel Ferrel’s choice to highlight the irony inherent in a show about a conman putting on a production to bilk the locals out of their money. Not to say that this production isn’t worth your nickel, it’s more than refreshing to see things getting back to some sort of normality and cast and crew working hard to put on a show. And work hard they did. The energy throughout the production ran high with a consistent attention to pacing and keeping the audience engaged.
The ability up and down the cast list was also a highlight. While the main characters of Professor Harold Hill (Kyle Igneczi) and Merion the Librarian (Christina Austin Lopez) do much of the heavy musical lifting aptly, the rest of the cast, especially Randy Pearlman and Kathryn Taylor Rose (in multiple roles), are both excellent comic relief and have a more than solid singing ability. The rest of the cast, especially those in the four-part harmonies, were also quite lovely.
There were two choices I was a little confused by. First was just having a single keyboard accompanying most of the show. I’m sure there were budget and staffing issues with the move outdoors, but for a show called “The Music Man,” there seemed to be less “music” than one would hope. The other question is the casting choice for the character of Winthrop. Using a type of makeshift puppet for the character could make sense, but the way Mr. Ferrel chose to construct it and utilize actors to manipulate it didn’t make sense to me.
The staging, costume and especially the lighting choices made for a comfortable understanding of the place and time of the play. The lighting especially made for a lovely evening at the park (save for one spotlight that seemed to do little to light a part of the stage, but a decent amount to semi-blind the audience).
Overall, the show is worth the trip. It really is lovely to see theater coming back in DFW. For most of us, the curtain raising on a new performance is a lovely “Hello Dear” sets us right up and Theater3’s “The Music Man,” even if the performance is short a few trombones, is still sincere. Only a few points of the production aren’t in harmony but don’t rise to the point of theater “sins.” I’ll bravely tell you, (what more could be plainer), that I enjoyed the show.
[this review was originally published at Katy Trail Weekly]