The cast of Arena Stage at the Mead Center for American Theater’s production of The Music Man May 11-July 22, 2012. Photo by Joan Marcus.
Arena Stage’s production of The Music Man is an attractive show put on by talented singers and it shows some cleverness in its use of the theater-in-the-round setup of the Fichandler stage. Beyond that it’s exactly what you’d expect from a well-liked classic musical put on by a seasoned and well-funded theater company. “It does what it says on the tin,” as the saying goes, and if you
want more expect different than that then what are you smoking?
Burke Moses as Harold Hill and the cast of Arena Stage at the Mead Center for American Theater’s production of The Music Man May 11-July 22, 2012. Photo by Joan Marcus.
Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with a safe production choice, as much as folks like myself and Peter Marks may sigh and question what the point is of doing something for the umpteenth time. There’s some interesting things here, one right out the gate in the clever way the opening scene is staged and animated, and the dancing was delightful.
At the same time, some things made you question why you’re not watching the 1962 movie. Burke Moses as Harold Hill is practically doing a Robert Preston voice match. Which in some ways is great – Robert Preston is fantastic whether he’s singing about 76 Trombones or finding space warriors in trailer parks using video games. But he can be in my home instantly for $2.99 via Amazon’s streaming rental.
(L to R) Burke Moses as Harold Hill and Kate Baldwin as Marian Paroo in Arena Stage at the Mead Center for American Theater’s production of The Music Man May 11-July 22, 2012. Photo by Joan Marcus.
So is it worth getting off your couch and spending your folding green to see the show live? Sure. Everyone turns out a good performance and the kids in particular are adorable and vibrant. Heidi Kaplan has far too few lines as the spunky Amaryllis and when Henry Hill stands up to the Mayor for Tommy you’re amazed he doesn’t add “Plus, have you seen the kid dance? His stage presence? Heard him sing? He’s gonna be a STAR!”
Arena’s production is a chance to see a top cast and crew do an American classic as well as it could possibly be staged. If you want unique and edgy you can find that down the street or look for the gems in the impending Fringe Festival. This is theatrical comfort food and as long as that’s what you’re looking for you’re gonna love it.
The Music Man at Arena Stage at the Mead Center for American Theater, through July 22, 2012. Arena Stage is located at 1101 Sixth Street SW, Washington, DC 20024. Closest Metro stop: Waterfront (Green line). For more information call 202-488-3300.