Thursday, March 26, 2009

(the good kind)

production of

In honor of Mick's parents' birthdays, we took them to The Music Man at OSF's Angus Bowman Theater on Sunday. They were down here for a week of the kids' two-week Spring Break (those two weeks are another story, related to Oregon's economic crisis) and we thought that seeing this light musical with the family would be fun.

We took Mick's parents, our kids, and my mom -- and Uncle Kai came, too, which was particularly great because he'd been in the Curtis High School production of this show back in the day. (1989?) Mr. Barbershop Quartet, so I hear.

I've never seen the play, and I thought it would be a fun show -- but I had no idea I would be so smitten.

From the opening "train" scene with all the salesmen singing and moving with a train engine rhythm, to the love ballad "Till There Was You" (which even the Beatles liked, see below), to that fabulous library scene with the sultry teen bookworms moving to "Marian the Librarian," this musical was absolutely charming.

Two big turn-ons in this production:

Bill Rauch directed the play, he's the OSF Artistic Director, and he did two things I thought were brilliant:

1 - Rauch had the entire town and its townspeople clad in gray when the music man comes to town. This set up the town's emotional status perfectly, visibly demonstrating their closed-off, drab, uninspired lives. Only the music man was in color at the beginning, in his bright red jacket. As the town slowly warmed to him and his ideas, bright clothes replaced gray ones, until only the stubborn mayor remained sans technicolor. If you've seen the movie Pleasantville, it had that same powerful effect.

2 - Rauch had the character of Marcellus Washburn (the Buddy Hackett character in the 1962 film) played by a deaf actor. It was mesmerizing and, at the risk of sounding condescending, heart-warming! It made the dialogue fascinating as the music man and Marcellus communicated with each other in a rhythm of words, grunts (that sounds weird, but it's true), and sign language. Furthermore, sign language even found its way into the choreography of one of the numbers the town sings. The sign language was obvious, but at the same time it seemed subtle in the way it sort of bloomed casually from everyone's hands. It was endearing (as is the character of Marcellus) and exciting to see on stage.

Kids favorite parts
At times I wasn't sure my kids knew what to make of the musical. I went over the general plot with them ahead of time and told them it would be a long production, but that's about it. Dane was pretty stoic throughout, and Aubrey smiled and laughed (taking cues from me while she sat on my lap? I don't know).

Afterwards, Dane said he liked the part at the end when the music man's been found out and the town is about to decide his fate when the uniformed marching band surprisingly shows up. He liked the uniforms, the kids, how they showed up to make a difference in the music man's fate, and how they played miserably but their parents were proud.

Aubrey said she liked the walking bridge scene, where a giant blue fabric is whooshed across stage under sparkly lights to look like the river.

Both kids liked the library scene.
(Dare I say it? Maybe... I got trouble!)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Anjie, dear Anjie.
What a gift of expressing your feelings about the Music Man experience.
The director and city of Ashland should get a copy of this blog. Is there some way you could especially share your thoughts with the director?
I've told several friends about the signing communication between Marcellas and Harold - not condescending to call that heartwarming - nearly brought tears to my eyes when they first started communicating. Brilliant!
What a touching memory to experience theatre in Ashland with Sharen, your family and Kai. It was more than marvelous.