Musical, special Broadway musicals, and especially Broadway musical with big stars in it, necessarily a big sweep. Crowds are trying to see who likes Hugh Jackman in Meredith Wilson’s Music Man—Duos pre-sale on the strength of his name, and Thursday night, opening night, was a pretty epic affair, with a real band outside the cinema in anticipation you haven’t heard enough brass and percussion on stage. Inside are stars like Anne Hathaway and Blake Lively.
There were no preview performances for members of the press prior to opening night. In keeping with its theme, Music Man opened with fanfare. By the time the curtain ended, cheers had resounded.
This isn’t just because the crowd is filled with the show’s biggest supporters, financial and otherwise. Two months ago, it became the benchmark for strength in the face of adversity. You may have seen the viral moment when Jackman stepped forward to praise the exercises and swings of Broadway when the show, like so many others, was dominating Omicron, and when Kathy Voytko was in the lead role of Sutton Foster, playing the librarian Marian, in the show’s fourth preview. (One of the show’s main producers is Barry Diller, president and chief executive officer of IAC, which owns The Daily Beast.)
Jackman that night appears to be the father of the company, and so it is throughout the show. He sings, he dances, he wears the best clothes on Broadway. Indeed, sometimes it’s more like he’s dancing to another man’s show of his own than with a company. His eyes, his smile, his crotch, his hug are all aimed at us. He was always the center of the stage. He is the conductor, choreographer, conductor.
This isn’t to say he’s a peacock or arrogant on the outside, but he’s a center of attention — and oddly enough, we don’t miss him when he’s off the field. discount. He’s lackluster on this show, even in the spotlight. The Jackman performer is the perfect match for his character Harold Hill, the musical man of the show’s title, who is also on a mission of calculated seduction – quiet and romantic. Hill is a con man who goes from town to town, raises money for a band in town, and then runs away with the money. He then heads to River City, Iowa, home to the townsfolk, while “Iowa Stubborn” plays like a song, including librarian Marian (Sutton Foster), her younger brother Winthrop (Benjamin Pajak) ).
Will Marian succumb to Harold’s insistent, somewhat lurking advances, and will Harold’s true identity be revealed? Mayor Shinn (Jefferson Mays) and Charlie Cowell (the wonderful Rene Auberjonois) are the closest things Music Man must be the antagonist. They are determined to expose Harold as the rogue he is.
The strange thing is that they are both completely right about Harold and are both good enough actors for us to sympathize with their righteous fall, even though the mayor is a sexist bully to his wife. Mr, Eulalie (the wonderful Jayne Houdyshell also makes the most of the shoulder-lighting). If you’re into big numbers on Broadway, names like “Seventy-six Trombone” and “Shipoopi” will be there, to be precise, and likely to have you—like the gentleman across the aisle for reporters. this — swinging back and forth happily.
At the end of the show, Harold bluntly reveals his villainy to young Winthrop, and the musical struggles as Harold expands on any kind of reasoning beyond it, until the great hare takes off his hat. go – yes, a boy band had formed, and no matter how bad they were, the boys’ parents loved them for playing their instruments. And so… Harold seems to have brought music and love to River City. It feels like a bad ending, especially in this production where our strength and allegiance rests entirely with Marian, not Harold, at the end.
This production, directed by music master Jerry Zaks, features a traditional 10,000-carat style — Santo Loquasto’s period dress of edgy suits for men and swirly dresses for women is a product. direct product. However, the movies look eerily similar, with local am-dram trees painted, until the stage opens too rarely into the larger space, as the beautiful drab library was used for “Marian the Librarian,” where Warren Carlyle’s choreography was given space to be alive and suspenseful rather than just beautifully swirling. But there’s no modernization here, no winking at dark sub-platforms. One thing, played to cause nasty laughs throughout life, is Winthrop’s lisp.
Music ManThe big surprise, perhaps unintended, was that it turned out to be a Marian gig. It was Sutton Foster who ultimately commanded our attention and applause, and it was Marian’s story and transformation that we followed most closely. Foster not only sings beautifully, she plays the role perfectly — we followed Marian and listened to her because of Foster’s intelligence in her. The first act is not kind to Marian both in the story and the song (“Goodnight, My someone” and “My White Knight”) is weak. But in act two comes “Till There was You,” a song about transformation rather than love – and it is so powerful that Harold responds to it.
Jackman pales in comparison to Foster’s very obvious performance. We never felt Harold was in danger of being discovered or what that means, we’re not entirely sure what his character learned in the end. We know he loves Marian, we know he’s embarrassed. But his route to self-discovery seems to be fleeting. She keeps his secret for her own power. Listening to the audience on opening night was the guide. Yes, they appreciated Jackman and his aggressive, theatrical energy, but Foster-as-Marian really won them over.
Marian gains control, and this is especially sweet when viewed in the second act after the first act’s horribly outspoken sexist songs, “The Sadder but Wiser Girl” and “Marian the Librarian, ” merely suggested her as prey. “No misty young lady / Who resists the whole time she insists!
Well, Marian had the ability to save Harold or leave him to the mob in the end, and obviously chose the former. But we are very clear that this was her choice. Yes, Marian loved Harold, even if she deserved much more. And so we follow, in the second season, the beat-by-beat growth and mastery of Sutton Foster as the star of Music Man.