The Music Man

Musical by Meredith Wilson. Harold Hill arrives in River City, Iowa, intent on persuding the townspeople to invest in a boys' band, led by himself! However, when he meets the town librarian, Marian Paroo, his intended con is thwarted, and he re-discovers his concience... and romance. The score included such classics as Seventy Six Trombones and Till There Was You.

Music, lyrics and libretto by Meredith Wilson, from a story by Meredith Wilson and Franklin Lacey.

Original London West End Production 1961

London Revival (Open Air Theatre) 1995

Original London West End Production 1961

Opened 16 March 1961, Closed 24 February 1962 at the Adelphi Theatre

The original cast featured Van Johnson as 'Harold Hill' and Patricia Lambert as 'Marian Paroo' with Ruth Kettlewell as 'Mrs. Paroo', Denis Waterman as 'Winthrop Paroo', Bernard Spear as 'Marcellus Washburn', C. Denier Warren as 'Mayor Shinn', Nan Munro as 'Eulalie Mackecknie Shinn' and Michael Malnick as 'Charlie Cowell'.

Directed by Robert Merriman from the original by Morton Da Costa, with choreography James Barron from the original by Onna White, sets by Howard Bay, costumes by Raoul Pene du Bois and lighting by Michael Northen.

Van Johnson played the role of 'Harold Hill' up to Saturday 17 February 1962. His understudy, Gordon Boyd, then took over the role from Monday 19 February 1962 for the last week of the run.

London Revival (Open Air Theatre) 1995

Previewed 25 July 1995, Opened 26 July 1995, Closed 4 September 1995 (in repertory) at the Open Air Theatre in Regent's Park

The cast featured Brian Cox as 'Harold Hill' and Liz Robertson as 'Marian Paroo' with Anny Tobin as 'Mrs. Paroo', Adam Goldsmith / Anthony Hamblin / Simon Humphrey as 'Winthrop Paroo', Nick Holder as 'Marcellus Washburn', John Challis as 'Mayor Shinn', Veronica Clifford as 'Eulalie Mackecknie Shinn' and Tom Hodgkins as 'Charlie Cowell' along with, Simon Clark, Julia Farino, Kim Harwood, Cameron Jack, Sarah Kershaw, Jane Lancaster, Colin Marsh, Nelly Morrison, Gareth Owen, Georgina Sowerby, Christopher Staines and Kevin Walton.

Directed by Ian Talbot with choreography by Lisa Kent, designs by Paul Farnsworth, lighting by Jason Taylor and sound by Simon Whitehorn.

"Meredith Willson's one-hit wonder The Music Man beat West Side Story to win Best Musical at the Tony awards in 1957. Like the original, the Regent's Park Open Air Theatre revival stars a first time song'n'dance man, Brian Cox... Cox has enough sense of rhythm to make it through the show, but his voice is thin. Director Ian Talbot has allowed him to coast on charm, a leer and a wink. He isn't helped by the casting of the highly-experienced Liz Robertson as his co-star. She gives the same performance she gave in the recent The King and I. Why? Marian is the quintessential ingenue role and needs to be sung by a sweet lyric soprano. Whenever Robertson shifts into her matronly head voice, all sense of expression vanishes. The design is fun and, thanks to sterling efforts by the supporting cast, the show survives. Just. There are rumours of a West End run. They cannot be serious." The Independent on Sunday

"Open-air theatre has a funny effect on the British: the inhibitions of both audience and cast disappear when the roof comes off. The chancy state of the weather creates a carnival atmosphere, and if it does rain, everyone sticks together to see it through. Ian Talbot's revival of Meredith Willson's innocent 1950s community operetta about the rogueries of a music salesman in a pre-1914 Iowa farm town is perfect material, with familiar tunes, some simple comedy and a love story. Paul Farnsworth's excellent storybook design captures the spirit of the piece. As the music man in question, Brian Cox is an unlikely musical comedy star, but his pleasure in being there carries all before him. Liz Robertson is utterly charming as the object of his affections." The Sunday Times

"In Ian Talbot's glad-hearted production, Brian Cox is wonderfully dicey as Harold Hill. Would you buy a used cornet from this man? It's Brian Cox's intensity that makes him such a star. And he never overdoes the charm. He's froggy-faced and his feet stick out like a duck's but he knows how to use them - fancy footwork is his forte... Liz Robertson is exactly right as Marian, a flaxen, tuneful spinster who slowly comes under Harold's spell. And when he puts on his baby-blue suit with the white binding, her last hope of resisting him is gone... The rest of the cast is splendid. There is lovely harmony from the townsmen (Simon Clark, Kevin Walton, Gareth Owen, Colin Marsh). Marcellus (Nick Holder), Harold's old partner in crime, moves like a graceful Easter egg; Veronica Clifford as Eulalie Mackecknie Shinn (not a shin in sight) is his fine female equivalent." The Observer

The Music Man in London at the Regent's Park Open Air Theatre previewed from 25 July 1995, opened on 26 July 1995 and closed on 4 September 1995 (in repertory)