March to the Beat of The Music Man at Marriott Lincolnshire April-June 2

Cast of Music Mann, Photo courtesy of Liz Lauren
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Marriott Lincolnshire Theatre proudly presents The Music Man, a family-friendly classic popular comedy tale. It is timely enough to delight every generation. The production has everything from wicked hijinks to sweet romances, corny jokes, campy antics, and spirit-uplifting familiar musical tunes. Reiniger Meredith Willson wrote the book, music, and lyrics to The Music Man as an homage to his home state of Iowa. The story was a collaboration between Meredith Willson and Frank Lacey. The musical garnered six Tony Awards when it premiered on Broadway in 1957. It won Best Musical. The cast album won the very first Grammy Award for Best Musical Theater Album. The show ran on Broadway for over three and a half years. The show’s immense success led to a 1962 film adaptation with Robert Preston, Shirley Jones, Buddy Hackett, Paul Ford, Ron Howard, and other notable actors of the time. There was also a more recent 2003 television adaptation. In 2022 there was a musical revival starring Hugh Jackman on Broadway. From Mason City, Iowa, to New York, and then Hollywood, Willson was a successful composer, conductor, musical arranger, bandleader, flutist, bass drummer, playwright, and writer. He was twice nominated for Academy Awards for his film scores.

Marriott’s production is rousingly choreographed and directed by Katie Spelman. The high-stepping dance numbers and all the cast movements are energetic and electric. I loved the soft shoe routine with Hippensteel and Silber that showcased their romantic connection. The superb Music Direction is by Hello Dolly 2023 Marriott production Jeff Award Winner, Ryan T. Nelson. The nine-piece orchestra shines brightly, playing with vigor and zeal, making the music the foremost star of this production. The scenic design by Collette Pollard is minimal but captures the time period, scene, and mood aptly especially the footbridge scene designated by glittering lanterns. Costume design by Raquel Adorno was rich in detail and texture and exquisitely captured the time period. The pastel colors were so complementary. Jesse Klug’s lighting lends mood magic to the scenes. My favorite surprise was the appearance of The Wells Fargo Wagon. The complete support team of Sound Designer Michael Daly, Wig Designer Miguel A. Armstrong, Props Designer Sally Zack, Associate Choreographer Kim Hudman, Conductor Kevin Reeks, Production Manager Meg Love, Stage Manager Jessica Banaszak, Dialect Coach Sammi Grant, Assistant Director Laura Rook and Assistant Stage Manager Richard Strimer. has produced a sweet smash hit.

K. J. Hippensteel commandingly stars as the charismatic (Professor Harold Hill). Although I loved the 1962 The Music Man film starring Robert Preston, I always thought his Harold Hill was more smarmy than charming. Hippensteel is much more appealing in this role. He is the fast-talking, handsome traveling salesman who, through sheer force of will, tries to con the good people of River City, Iowa, into buying instruments and band uniforms. The professor pledges he will organize the band despite the fact he knows nothing about music or bands. His plan is to abscond with the good people’s hard-earned money before they discover he is a fraud. Of course, there is an unexpected twist when the con man falls in love with (Marian Paroo), the librarian and piano teacher who is so prim, proper, charmingly, and delightfully portrayed by gorgeous Alexandra Silber. Her operatic styling voice is enchanting. She rebukes him artfully in the beginning until she discovers he is able to draw out her young brother, (Winthrop Paroo) Kai Edgar, whose performance is spot on. He is virtually mute due to his lisp and subsequent lack of confidence until Hippensteel as (Professor Harold Hill) takes him under his wing. This warms his sister Alexandra Silber’s (Marian Paroo’) heart. 

With her Irish lilt, Janet Ulrich Brooks is a pure delight as Mother to Marian and Winthrop cast as (Mrs. Paroo). She has excellent comedic timing and delivery. Alex Goodrich, always a stellar performer, captivates the audience with his sputtering, waffling (Mayor Shin) portrayal and as the self-serving owner of the Devil’s lair pool hall. The pool hall, of course, is the trouble in River City. Michael Earvin Martin as (Marcellus Washburn) has a mellifluous voice and matches charm with nefarious cohort Harold Hill. Sam Linda as (Tommy Djillas), the juvenile delinquent reformed by the professor, stands out with his dancing moves. Ron E. Rains as the Anvil Salesman (Charlie Cowell) nemesis to Hill acting is superb. Naya Rosalie James, as (Gracie Shinn) the youngest daughter of Mayor Shinn, outdoes herself with the mimicry of her father, Mayor Shinn, in one hilarious scene. The whole cast is terrific. Their harmonies and vocals are showstopping. I loved the barbershop quartet renditions from Michael Potsic, Quinn Rigg, Michael Mahler, and Matt Edmonds, “Lida Rose,” and “Ice Cream/Sincere.” They were delicious.  Carol Bruin, Melanie Loren, Kelly Felthous, and Lillian Castillo’s dance numbers were over-the-top hysterically funny. 

 River City’s inhabitants proudly announce their chip-on-the-shoulder, stubborn, stand-offish demeanor, but after the professor, they are forever changed. I believe we were all changed with songs in our hearts and smiles on our faces. Opening night elicited enthusiastic applause and loud guffaws from the full-house audience. They were on their feet for a well-deserved standing ovation almost before the finale.

This production is dedicated to the Music Man in everyone’s hearts, the late Bernie Yvon (1964-2014). A veteran of countless theaters across the country, Bernie was especially beloved for his performances on the Marriott Theatre stage. Bernie considered Marriott Theatre home, and their patrons considered him family. A scholarship fund in Bernie’s name ensures that the next generation of theatre artists are given the same opportunity to learn and light up the stage as Bernie did. To play a part in honoring his legacy, please visit

THE MUSIC MAN is scheduled to run on Wednesdays at 1 p.m. and 7:30 p.m., Thursdays at 7:30 p.m., Fridays at 8 p.m., Saturdays at 4 p.m. and 8 p.m., and Sundays at 1 p.m. and 5 p.m., with select Thursday 1:00 p.m. shows. Ticket prices start at $60 (excluding tax and handling fees). Call for student, senior, and military discounts. To make a restaurant reservation, please call 847.634.0100. Reservations are strongly recommended. Free parking is available at all performances. To reserve tickets, please call the Marriott Theatre Box Office at 847.634.0200 or go to Visit for more information. Music Theatre International licensed this production of THE MUSIC MAN.



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