Youth theater group hits all the right notes with 'The Music Man, Jr.'

Youth theater group hits all the right notes with 'The Music Man, Jr.'

  • The cast of "The Music Man, Jr." includes, back, from left, Annalise Panken (Mrs. Paroo), Matthew Tomaszewski (Marcellus Washburn), Matthew Eshaya (Mayor Shinn), Matthew Nagle (Charlie Cowell), Elisha Azcoitia (Harold Hill); and front, from left, Griffin Foote (Winthrop Paroo), Rachel Fitzgerald (Amaryllis), Mary Fitzgerald (Eulalie Shinn), and Emma Schuth (Marian Paroo).

    The cast of "The Music Man, Jr." includes, back, from left, Annalise Panken (Mrs. Paroo), Matthew Tomaszewski (Marcellus Washburn), Matthew Eshaya (Mayor Shinn), Matthew Nagle (Charlie Cowell), Elisha Azcoitia (Harold Hill); and front, from left, Griffin Foote (Winthrop Paroo), Rachel Fitzgerald (Amaryllis), Mary Fitzgerald (Eulalie Shinn), and Emma Schuth (Marian Paroo). Courtesy of Alysa Clark

 
Submitted by CYT Chicago Northwest Cook County
Posted2/9/2020 7:20 AM

Harold Hill, the fast-talking traveling salesman, arrives in River City, Iowa, and attempts to pull a fast one on the locals.

From left, Niki Gerhart, Kevin Brumby and Elisha Azcoitia at a rehearsal for "The Music Man, Jr."
From left, Niki Gerhart, Kevin Brumby and Elisha Azcoitia at a rehearsal for "The Music Man, Jr." - Courtesy of Alysa Clark

His scheme is threatened when the beautiful librarian Marian sees a good man beneath his act, and forces him to face a difficult decision about skipping town.

CYT Chicago's Northwest Cook County's production of "The Music Man, Jr." runs Feb 13-23 at Prairie Lakes Theater, 515 E. Thacker St. in Des Plaines.

Tickets are $15 presale or $17 at the door. Visit www.cytchicago.org and click on "Shows" or call (847) 516-2298 to purchase tickets. The Prairie Lakes Theater seats only 300, so shows sell out very quickly. Call the box office for handicapped accessible seating.

One of the most universally cherished treasures of the American musical theater, "The Music Man" was an instant smash hit when it premiered on Broadway in December 1957.

It went on to win five Tony Awards, including the prize for Best Musical, and ran for 1,375 performances. In 1962, "The Music Man" was made into a musical film starring Robert Preston as Harold Hill and Shirley Jones as Marian Paroo.

CYT Chicago's Northwest Cook County's production of "The Music Man, Jr." runs Feb 13-23 at Prairie Lakes Theater, 515 E. Thacker St. in Des Plaines.
CYT Chicago's Northwest Cook County's production of "The Music Man, Jr." runs Feb 13-23 at Prairie Lakes Theater, 515 E. Thacker St. in Des Plaines. - Courtesy of Alysa Clark

"Harold Hill is the most famous salesman alive," says Elisha Azcoitia, who plays Hill in this CYT Chicago production. "He has a passion for not being broke."

As Harold spends time in River City, however, he begins to rethink his priorities, thanks to Marian, played by Emma Schuth.

"Marian is independent and reserved at first," says Schuth. "But as the story goes on, she really develops as a character."

"I think every character has a turning point in the show," says Director Steven Holman. "I think my favorite is how, over time, Harold starts to realize this isn't the life he wants to live anymore. When he's confronted by Winthrop and the town, he doesn't try to make excuses or run, but instead accepts responsibility and is prepared to face the consequences."

Holman is making his directorial debut with "The Music Man." His story echoes that of the show's central theme -- that people can change in unexpected ways.

"I've been a part of the CYT community since before I can remember, and I would have never imagined I'd go from being on stage (as a child performer) to being the lead director," Holman said.

"But, in the end, I am honored to be working with this cast and crew to tell the story of 'The Music Man.'"

And that story is one of the classics of popular American culture.

From left, Matthew Nagle, Jessica Schneider, Amanda Pilotte, Mary Fitzgerald, Megan Sulak, Michelle Nagle, Jeri Ann Day and Jackson Clark are among the cast of CYT Chicago Northwest Cook County's production of "The Music Man, Jr."
From left, Matthew Nagle, Jessica Schneider, Amanda Pilotte, Mary Fitzgerald, Megan Sulak, Michelle Nagle, Jeri Ann Day and Jackson Clark are among the cast of CYT Chicago Northwest Cook County's production of "The Music Man, Jr." - Courtesy of Alysa Clark

"It's about how a community can come together over one central cause," says Matthew Eshaya, who plays Mayor Shinn.

When Harold Hill arrives in River City, Iowa, he uses his personality and fast talk to persuade the uptight town to start a marching band. He convinces the community that the new pool table in town is nothing but trouble, and the only way to save their children is by purchasing uniforms and instruments so they can join his band. In the end, the town has an even greater impact on him.

"There's so much detail to the storyline," says Holman. "As the director, I want to highlight even the little details so the audience can better experience and understand the complexity of the characters and the story."

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