“Music Man” Dazzles at Snug Harbor’s Music Hall

19th Century Snug Harbor Music Hall was backdrop for our teleportation back to 1912 River City Iowa last night, as new audiences met with a timeless classic—and a full house voiced its approval with raucous joy and a standing ovation.
Staten Island’s own Harbor Lights Theater Company has assembled an exceptional cast of local, city and national artists to perform “The Music Man” at Snug Harbor Music Hall July 8-17. Don’t think for a minute that the show was a bunch of “ringers” from Manhattan or elsewhere. Many, many in the cast and production side are Staten Island born and bred.
Artistic director Tamara Jenkins program letter speaks of the ‘village” it takes to create and maintain a successful regional theater company and opening night’s rousing audience response was apt complement to the wondrous display of song, dance , acting, humor and, yes, even masterful baton twirling and a full marching band. The village was there last night, and were they ever having fun.
Jay Montgomery plays Hill with customary aplomb, while Rebecca Baxter’s warbles wondrously as Marian. Larry Marshal is spunky and cantankerous as Mayor Shin and Patti Mariano is the divine link with the original production as Mrs. Paroo.
One can’t say enough about this ensemble. The opening railcar scene, in acapella, is smart, quaint and complicated and the barber shop quartet numbers stopped the show on more than one occasion. The ensemble dances were extraordinary in their precision and spirit. The ensemble is the star of this show and the melding of many voices, the sheer energy, enthusiasm and, yes, the love that is conveyed by this troupe bodes marvelously for the future. This extraordinary cast is the foundation for performances to come. The children—don’t forget the children of this show-and know that as they grow in their art, so will Harbor Lights have all the talent it needs, and then some, for great performances in the future.
The audience gushed its enthusiastic approval of the cast at the applause-but the upbeat demeanor of the audience at intermission, strolling in the outdoor spaces under the arched overhang, eating cupcakes and other delicious American fare, the audience itself is very much a part of the show and they may consider themselves well reviewed.
Ray Roderick directs with logic and elegance while Mimi Quillen’s dances scintillate. Jami Roderick’s lighting pleases chromatically and Andrea Hoods costuming is period, authentic and splendid. Lauri Young’s music resonates wonderfully in the ancient acoustics of the Music Hall.
“The Music Man” with book, music and lyrics by Meredith Wilson, is about a con man, Harold Hill (Jay Montgomery) who scams the locals of River City, Iowa into buying band instruments and uniforms to fulfill their brimming potential as musicians. Prim librarian, Marian (Rebecca Baxter) sees through him but overlooks his dastardly nature when Hill helps her younger brother overcome his social anxieties. The 1957 show won five Tonys and ran for 1,375 performances with film revival in 1962 and a 2003 made-for-tv adaptation.

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