Actors from Drayton Festival Theatre’s first season and all the way through the years are back for the 25th anniversary of the theatre, performing the award-winning Broadway musical The Music Man until the end of August.
The all-ages show brings together a large cast of seasoned professionals, along with a children’s chorus. Set in small town River City, Iowa, the show is full of lively dance numbers and classic tunes, like “Seventy-Six Trombones,” “Till There Was You,” and “Ya Got Trouble.”
“It’s a show that really showcases a lot of our performers that have been with us the past 25 years,” executive producer Steve Roth said. “Obviously we wanted to celebrate our 25th anniversary and there are so many different types of characters in this show and we worked with so many tremendous artists over the years. When casting, Alex Mustakas, our artistic director, was able to take a lot of those actors that we’ve used over the years and find some great, great parts for them.”
Written by Meredith Willson and Franklin Lacey, the musical won five Tony Awards during its run on Broadway in 1957. It was turned into a film in 1962 and later adapted for television in 2003, when it starred Matthew Broderick and Kristin Chenoweth. That rendition was filmed in Ontario.
Roth says audiences have been raving since Drayton’s production of The Music Man opened last week.
“Certainly the feedback I’ve been getting from people who’ve seen the show is how great it is to see the show again and how memorable the music is. And for the people who hadn’t sent the show how catchy the songs are and what a fun show it is. It’s been so well received by both people who have seen it and who haven’t seen it,” Roth said.
The story follows Harold Hill, a conman who tries to persuade the town to buy instruments to form a children’s band. But his plan doesn’t work out as expected when he falls for the town librarian, Marian Paroo.
“He goes from town to town, woos the townsfolk, kind of like that stereotypical used car salesman, they come into town, try to sell you a bill of goods and just before the deal gets sealed, his plan is to head out of town. And he goes to the next town and does the same thing. He’s nothing but trouble, so to speak,” Roth said.
Hill is played by David Rogers, whose Drayton resume includes his one man show Broadway Heroes, Jean Valjean in Les Misérables, Che in Evita, and Joseph in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.
Jayme Armstrong portrays Paroo and has played such Drayton roles as Roxie in Chicago, Fantine in Les Misérables, Elle Woods in Legally Blonde, and Maria in The Sound of Music.
Roth says one of the nice things about the show is everybody shines within their roles. Elmira native Rachel Clark returns as an ensemble member and the children’s chorus dance captain, a crucial role when putting together such a large cast in just two weeks.
“It just brings everything that we stand for in one show. We’re certainly very proud of it and really pleased with the final product and it’s been great that we can have performers that are a part of our show that were in our very first season 25 years ago, all the way up to some of the young people in the community,” Roth said.
He notes it’s a perfect show for the whole family because it’s fun and accessible. He’s looking forward to taking his own children to see it for the first time.
“It’s hard to believe it all started 25 years ago. A lot of people are going to see this show, certainly when we had the opening last week a lot of people were reminiscing how quickly 25 years go. Music Man is a real celebration of the growth of Drayton Festival Theatre.”
The Music Man runs Aug. 5 – Aug. 29 at the Drayton Festival Theatre. Tickets are $42 for adults, and $25 for youth under 20. Tickets are available online at www.draytonfestivaltheatre.com, in person at the theatre box office, or by calling (519) 638-5555 or toll free 1-855-DRAYTON (372-9866).