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"Music Man" comes marching into Maricopa -- April 26-28
Wednesday, April 25, 2012
“The Music Man,” the current production of the Maricopa Community Theatre at the new Maricopa Unified School District’s Performing Arts Center, is a challenging production that includes a cast of 65 members, over 20 songs, several large productions numbers, an orchestra, and a marching band that plays at the end.
Recruiting from the community and using the production as both a performance and workshop effort, “The Music Man” gave local talent the opportunity to shine as well as entertainment.
“The Music Man” is a classic musical theater favorite with a typical boy meets girl, loses girl, then wins girl back theme -- all while conning a town into supporting a non-existent boys’ band.
Acting -- outside of the pack
“The Music Man” Professor Harold Hill is a demanding role that was ably performed by Paul Matthew “Matt” Ortega. When he was onstage, all eyes naturally gravitate to his animated and talented performance.
Marian the librarian, played by Meghan Pemberton, does not have as much time onstage as Hill, but she is integral to the outcome. Pemberton has a sweet voice and comes across believably as the initially skeptical, then convinced, partner for Hill.
Other particularly effective performances were by David Vargas, Grady Beach, Carl Diedrich, and Mary Patch.
David Vargas is always a stand out, even in secondary roles such as this current one of Marcellus Washburn, who warns Hill about the angry citizenry.
Probably the single most effective musical number of the performance was Hill (Ortega) and Washburn (David Vargas) singing “The Sadder but Wiser Girl,” which was witty and expressive.
Carl Diedrich, in the role of Mayor Shinn, competently turns a cardboard cutout of a character into a funny caricature. His sense of comic timing also worked well for the role.
Mary Patch, who had only a short singing turn without a speaking role in the earlier performances, has an arresting presence. In the April 26 performance, she will perform as Zaneeta Shinn, daughter of Mayor Shinn. She also understudied the role of Marian.
As the extremely shy, lisping, 10-year-old Winthrop Paroo, Grady Beach was effective and poignant in his performance as his character is changed by Hill’s charisma.
During the opening night performance, technical sound issues in the new venue prevented the voices from being heard well. After a concerted effort by Director Carrie Vargas to correct those problems, the second performance created a much more effective audience experience.
Denise Earnest energetically and capably served as music director, rehearsing the cast for the many musical numbers.
When dealing with crowd scenes, moving large numbers of actors of all ages, choreographer Julie Stanfill kept effective looking groups moving around and created attractive tableaus.
Dawn Hunter and Cindi Calhoun’s costume designs worked well, with the youngest cast members primarily in pastels, leaving more vivid colors to the more central characters.
“The Music Man” was a labor of love, as the production list included many families with people serving in several capacities. Musical director Denise Earnest also was part of the set construction crew along with Matthew Earnest. Chris, Terry, and Kaylen Forbes; Cheri and Jerry Foschi; Chuck and Shaylon Hendrickson; Bryan and Michael Shaw; Julie and Thad Stanfill; and Director Carrie Vargas and David Vargas devoted uncountable hours to creating this production.
Leading man speaks out
Ortega confided that he “loves how Harold Hill, a swindler, is transformed into a person who has fallen in love.” As a child in the Casa Grande Children’s Theater, Ortega also had the role of Hill, so this performance with Maricopa Community Theatre is a return to a role he loves and inhabits effectively.
More time to see
“The Music Man” will also be performed on April 26, 27, and 28 at the Maricopa High School Performing Arts Center at 7:00 P.M. Tickets may be purchased at the door or online at www.maricopacommunitytheatre.com. Come see your neighbors perform this memorable show!
Shelley Gillespie / CopaNews.com
Music Man Harold Hill (Matt Ortega) looks on as Winthrop (Grady Beach) exclaims over his cornet to Marian (Meghan Pemberton).