As a Broadway musical and as an Academy Award winning film, “The Music Man” was a big production, featuring a large cast singing such enduring favorites as “Seventy-six Trombones” and “Ya Got Trouble.”
In the Ten Thousand Things production, which runs through March 9, these elements are reduced to a compact cast and a bare stage, and from all the pomp and circumstance is pulled a tender love story.
Fitting this big, brassy musical into two hours using a cast of just eight actors obviously requires some surgery, but director Lear deBessonet wields the scalpel deftly and creatively. Only one song (“The Sadder-but-Wiser Girl”) has been fully excised. Others are trimmed to a single verse or reimagined as spoken-word soliloquys in which the tune makes a late appearance. For some audiences, this will be a disappointment. For others, it will be a revelation.
Director Lear deBessonet has tested the elasticity of “The Music Man” and reveals an unexpectedly tender story about two lost souls who find redemption in each other … Rarely has this show seemed so generously poignant, so sentimentally honest…[Meredith] Willson wrote this story with great warmth and a belief in the capacity of humans to change themselves through their imaginations. DeBessonet has used that notion to sculpt a beautiful, small production.
…the bond that [Luverne] Seifert and [Aimee] Bryant build is remarkably strong and touching. And though the acting from this talented duo is key, there’s also something magical about the staging. In a big room, there’s no space for subtle touches; in Open Book’s intimate setting, the tender scenes before and after “Till There Was You” are absolutely riveting.
You can find out more about actor Aimee Bryant here.
Have you seen Ten Thousand Things’ production of “Music Man?” What’s your review?