Book, Music and Lyrics by Meredith Willson

Direction by Mark Rosenstein

The St. Jean’s Players (

167 East 75th Street

Non union production (closed)

Review by David Mackler


St. Jean’s Players doesn’t take small bites.  Gypsy, Footloose, Annie, Where’s Charley? – and now The Music Man.  The virtues of this well-known property are many, but it also has detractors.  The quality of the show is not under discussion here; it is what it is, you either love it or don’t.  What makes a difference is how well it comes over, and with this production – filled with pros, semi-pros, and lots of first timers – when it comes across well, there’s nothing like it.  As was mentioned in the review of their Annie (, the St. Jean’s Players have a knack for recruiting good singers, and when the stage is full (the cast numbers around 40) and voices are blending, harmonizing and emoting, not even the shall we say limited acoustics of the space can put a damper on the enthusiasm and energy waves pouring out.  And The Music Man has plenty of numbers where the whole town gathers and sings.  So with the Salesmen and their a capella “Rock Island,” there starts a charge that rarely lets up.  “Iowa Stubborn,” one of those here’s-who-we-are scene setting numbers, is full of charm and fine harmony. 


There’s also plenty of opportunity for ham, from the young (Allison Snyder’s Amaryllis) to the older (Lucy Apicello’s Eulalie Mackecknie Shinn), and it’s just what’s needed – this isn’t Hamlet, after all.  Sharon Lowe’s fine voice captures the longing of “Goodnight My Someone,” and if Charles Mobbs’ Harold Hill has a tendency to stand and declaim his songs (even when he’s moving), when the townspeople chime in with their parts, the sound of “Seventy-Six Trombones” is vibrant and sweet.


The Music Man also manages to turn novelty songs into character- and plot-advancing numbers, and with Richard Haslow, Rob Weinstein, James Lane, and Matthew P. Fisher as the barbershop quartet, “Sincere” was a fine expression of sentiment and vocal talent.  Larry Hirshik’s Marcellus really did seem like a former con-man tired of being on the run, Jay Fink’s Mayor Shinn was as self-importantly pompous as the mayor would be, and well matched to his missus.  The townswomen were wonderful (Camber Carpenter in particular), and the combination of their “Pick-A-Little, Talk-A-Little” with the quartet’s “Goodnight, Ladies” was terrific.  “Marian the Librarian” was well served by Lowe’s alternately sweetly resisting and enjoying the Professor’s attentions as the well-choreographed (by Jennifer Hoddinott) number takes over the library.  Lowe also came alive with the wistful “My White Knight,” a song that usually lies there, but here was good character revelation.  (She also had the good fortune to be playing opposite the sweetly funny Sarah Vidal as her mother.)   The “Wells Fargo Wagon” excitement was palpable, with the stage again full of wonderful voices, especially with the scene stealing antics of Apicello’s Eulalie Mackecknie Shinn (just saying the character’s name make you smile).


The quartet’s unexpectedly funny “It’s You” preceded a rousing “Shipoopi” that had plenty of ham, uh, scene-stealing antics, particularly the wide-eyed wonderment and stage-wide smile of Cathy Carrey-Aquino’s Ethel Toffelmier.  Nothing could top the exquisitely lovely “Lida Rose/Will I Ever Tell You” of Lowe and the quartet, but the impossibly precocious ham (oh, you know) of Kyrian Friedenberg’s “Gary, Indiana” sure tried.  A sweetly staged musical interlude led beautifully into Lowe’s quite lovely “Till There Was You,” which led into an effective, funny chase.


For this Music Man it’s all about the music, and director Mark Rosenstein handled his cast well.  The band’s sound often got swallowed, and if a player or singer missed a note, well, what’s a missed note among friends?  Because that’s the feeling that comes through most.  That, and a tinge of regret that the cakewalk never came back into style.


Also with (deep breath) Edward Knauer, David Thomas Crowe, Patrick Doss, Geoffrey Hill, Marcello Padilla, Angela Theresa Domingo, Megan Myers, Abigail Shuppy, Sharon O’Neal, DeVette Pia LoVerde, Pamela Robbins, Kristin Stang, Elizabeth Eiel, Josh Bowen, Kristina Osterling, Nicholas E. Page, Megan Peterson, Nell Brennan, Molly Hirshik, Erin Moriarty, Sebastian Aristizabal, Sonia Brozak, Sloan Cooper Cherry, Henry Hicks, Charles D. Moxley, Lenard C. Moxley, Isaac Youki Pettigrew, Ikey Schultz. Razy Jordan, Alicia Rau, Heather Diehm, Linda Blacken, Harriet Levine and James Lane were the band.  Jay Fink set the lighting, Greg Guiteras put together a creditable River City, and M.C. Waldrep wrangled the spiffy costumes.

Box Score:

Writing: 2

Directing: 1

Acting: 1

Sets: 1

Costumes: 2

Lighting/Sound: 1

Copyright 2007 David Mackler

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