Fall 2019: The Music Man
Book, Music, and Lyrics by Meredith Wilson
By turns wicked, funny, warm, romantic and touching, The Music Man is family entertainment at its best. Meredith Willson's six-time, Tony Award-winning musical comedy has been entertaining audiences since 1957 and is a family-friendly story to be shared with every generation.
The Music Man follows fast-talking traveling salesman, Harold Hill, as he cons the people of River City, Iowa, into buying instruments and uniforms for a boys' band that he vows to organize – this, despite the fact that he doesn't know a trombone from a treble clef. His plans to skip town with the cash are foiled when he falls for Marian, the librarian, who transforms him into a respectable citizen by curtain's fall.
Mayor George Shinn
Eulalie Mackecknie Shinn
Mrs. Carol Squires
Caroline Simmons, Graham DiLorenzo, Hadi Houalla, Meggie Ferguson, Susana Kuhn, Russell Petro
Flute / Piccolo
Assistant Technical Directors
Head Lighting Designer
Head Hair and Makeup
Run Crew Chief
Run Crew Members
Hair / Makeup
Assistant Business Manager
Julia Ruth Preston
Anna Grace Chang
Maame Sarpong Duah
Director's Note: Jessie Fidler
Our production of The Music Man is an experiment. As an organization, we challenged ourselves to reexamine the ways in which we produce older, often outdated, pieces of theater. To breathe life into pieces of art that are in their afterlife, and to make the story our own, for our time. I have often questioned the responsibility of the artist. Are we to continue producing works of theatre that are now seen as problematic? How can we increase the canon of great theatre to include diverse and new voices, if we continue producing older pieces of work, often written by white men? How can we push back against the script, or should we push back at all? These were few of the many questions I had when proposing The Music Man.
Meredith Willson’s The Music Man is the story of a small town in 1912 River City, Iowa, which serves as a nostalgic, love letter to the small-town Americana he grew up in during the early half of the 20th century. After researching into the time period and social norms of the 1912 Midwest, I encouraged the cast to make The Music Man their own. We had open dialogues with our Diversity and Inclusion Chairs about what aspects of The Music Man the cast related to and the parts that they found to be inappropriate to perform on stage today. What we discovered was that it was much more powerful to address, critique, and/or update outdated sections of the show, than to cut them in their entirety, with the exception of one scene, as physically performing racism was irredeemable to our actors.
Is Harold Hill a hero, as the script implies, or an opportunity-seeking con-man who profits off of Iowans' belief in the American Dream? How can we give more agency to Marian, the Pickalittle Ladies, and other female characters, while at the same time, recognizing the time period in which the story takes place? Our production is the result of several discussions about the implicit racism, sexism, and exclusive Americana in The Music Man script. We know that our production may not be perfect in addressing these issues, and we encourage you to speak to us about your thoughts of what worked and what didn’t.
I would like to thank each and every member of First Year Players, from Tech Member to Producer, who made this show possible. Thank you to the Production Staff, Artistic Staff, Tech, and Pit, without whom this show would not have been possible. Final thanks to the first year cast members, who approached the vision with open minds and an eager spirit that made them a delight to work with. This show is their own, and I am proud to have been their Director. We hope you will leave our humble, concrete box theater tonight questioning productions of older pieces of theatre, such as The Music Man. Produce and support pieces of theatre that are fresh, and challenge yourselves to reexamine older works of art and theatre. Thank you.
Producer's Note: Tess Driscoll
Similar to the community of The Music Man’s River City, Iowa, First Year Players is a tight knit group of people with our own quirky customs, dreams, and obstacles to overcome. Our members come together from all corners of the University because they are drawn to the art of theatre. The Music Man tells a similar story of a community coming together through the art of music. However, unlike traditional productions of The Music Man, the members of First Year Players were not comfortable with the sexism, racism, and other forms of discrimination that existed during 1912 that have been manifested in other interpretations of this show. Thus, together, we took a critical look at the script. Like Marian Paroo fact checking Harold Hill, we questioned the characters’ behaviors, investigated the roots of these issues, and acted. Rather than hiding the script’s flaws, we choose to use this show to critique these themes while still maintaining the excitement of a Golden Broadway Musical.
In many ways, our production of The Music Man reflects FYP’s community. Each year, new members join our group, spreading fires of new ideas and bringing new life to our productions. We maintain our traditions of welcoming our new cast and pit during Roll Night, going to Bodo’s every Monday morning, and singing the Good Old Song after every performance. And we continue to make new ones, such as rolling our new Tech Members, going to Kings Dominion for Halloween Haunt, and creating the role of Diversity and Inclusion Chair to help us analyze our scripts and ourselves. Over the course of my four years, I have had the pleasure of meeting several brilliant Marian Paroos (although more well-rounded) and charismatic Harold Hills (although more virtuous). We thrive off of our new members and seek social change within our community.
I am so thankful to be a part of First Year Players. It has been an honor to work with such talented, passionate, and hard-working individuals. Like Harold Hill, we may not have degrees in directing, acting, orchestrating, or tech work, but we still produce fantastic shows with what we have. We build our own sets, sew our costumes, borrow instruments, and work together to turn our vision of student run theatre into a reality. To my FYP Family – thank you for playing a part in my favorite story. To you, the audience – I hope you get a glimpse into why FYP means more than just First Year Players; to me, and to many others, it means Finding Your Place. We hope you can find your place here with us tonight and that you enjoy the show!