THE MUSIC MAN – Book, Music and Lyrics by Meredith Willson; Story by Meredith Willson and Franklin Lacey; Directed and Choreographed by Kelly Van Oosbree; Music Direction by Andrew Fischer. Produced by Performance Now Theatre Company (Presented at the Lakewood Cultural Center, 470 South Allison Parkway, Lakewood) through April 7. Tickets available at 303-987-7845 or presents. 

Do we have trouble right here in Denver City? Nope, we sure don’t. What we got is a lively, energetic, professionally performed celebration of the glorious music of Meredith Willson. Can you even begin to fathom the creative depths of a mind that could produce the beautiful love songs of this show, such as “Good Night, My Someone, ““Lida Rose” (what an ear worm that one is!), and “Till There Was You”? Then he turns around and balances those with a nonsense song like “Shapoopie” and a march like “76 Trombones.” This man was a genius. This beautiful story of deception and redemption should be performed yearly to remind us of the power of community and the healing nature of music. 

Mr. Wilson would be shouting “Good for You!” at this cast and crew were he able. Under the always amazingly creative direction of Kelly Van Oosbree, the story unfolds with joy. Her ability – in this case – to get children as young as the second grade and seasoned performers such as Karen Krause and David Novinger all learning the same dance routines and performing them with precision and smiles on their faces – well, let’s just say I’m agog!  

The decision to pare down the technical aspects of the production was a thoughtful and brilliant solution to the many sets normally required by this show. Instead, a gazebo in the upstage third of the stage contained the nine-piece orchestra that provides the music for all this fun. It also provides an appropriate backdrop for the story, with the steps in front creating an acting space for the “indoor” scenes, leaving space for the marching boys band and scenery to be moved in and out smoothly. Keeping the stage uncluttered allowed the focus to be on the story, the music and the dancing. “Good for You!” to whoever dreamed that arrangement up. 

It’s hard to highlight specific members of the cast because all 38 of them moved as a unit and functioned as a family. But if you don’t have a charming Harold Hill and a winsome Marian Paroo for your show, you’re sunk. At first glance, Jeffrey Parker may seem too nice for the role of a conniving duplicitous con man, but he soon shows that there’s a cutting edge under that niceness. His charm is part of the plot as he explains to his former sidekick. He always flirts and flatters the person who might undermine his scheme. In this case, that’s the immediately suspicious town librarian, played by Carolyn Lohr. Winsome with a capitol W, it takes a lot of genuine kindness to her shy little brother Winthrop (an adorable Ethan Hershman) to win her over. But Hill soon finds himself beginning to be won over instead. There are just so many cute touches, sweet moments between the lovers, and the number of talented little kids on that stage. You can’t get the smile off your face. The harmonies of the barbershop quartet, the ladies Grecian urns, the anticipation of the arrival of the musical instruments, watching little Winthrop come out of his shell, and on and on. 

Just one of the things that makes this production out of the ordinary is the number of family members that are performing together. There are husbands and wives, mothers and daughters, fathers and sons – all singing and dancing together as they play the townspeople of River City. Just like they were a real family . . .. and they become one. It’s lovely to behold. 

I could go on and on about this production, but if you’re reading, you’re not picking up your phone and buying tickets. I’ll shut up so you can get to it. This is a good one, folks. Don’t miss it! 

A WOW factor of 9!! 

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