‘The Music Man’ performed at Kaufman Auditorium

The popular and beloved musical, Meredith Wilson’s “The Music Man” marches into Kaufman Auditorium at 7 p.m. today and Saturday, performed by Marquette Senior High School and beautifully directed by Amber Christunas.

“The Music Man” delivers on every level, from the orchestra, the technical elements, the choreography and most of all, the performances by this group of fine young actors. “The Music Man” ensures a sure-fire evening of incredible entertainment.

The action takes place in River City, Iowa, a town that has lost some of its verve and enthusiasm due to complacency and general well-being. In its place, for excitement sake, the citizens have resorted to arguments, conflict and gossip. Enter Harold Hill, a traveling salesman of band instruments and promises who identifies that River City might be heading in the wrong direction with the recent purchase of a pool table. That’s trouble with a capitol T which rhymes with P and that stands for pool. Once convinced that their future is at risk, the River City citizens organize around Professor Hill and ask that he save the youth of River City by providing them with instruments rather than pool sticks. And then the fun begins.

As Harold Hill, Sam Billman does an excellent job playing a character who looks ready to flee at a moment’s notice. As the slick con-man, Billman has an excellent singing voice and enormous amounts of salesman ship, especially when singing “Trouble” at the beginning of the show. Harold Hill finds old friend Marcellus Washburn living in River City, played with zeal and fine vocals by John Thomson, who then provides Hill with the information of where to find the music teacher, who Hill must win over before his instrument scam can bear fruit. Members of the school board, played by Mathurin Gagnon, Christopher Belles, Luke Ogea and Orion Ingmire are outstanding. It is incredible to hear four-part harmony of this caliber performed at a local high school with this level of precision. This quartet is amazing, and the rehearsal that they must have had with music director Jan Broderson is evident. To say I was incredibly impressed is an understatement.

As Mayor Shinn, the rather baffled and rigid mayor of River City is played with great fun and flair by Marius Grazulis. Grazulis is as funny as he is tall, which is very, very funny. As his wife, Eulalie Mackecknie Shinn, Karen Ludwig is masterful in all of her mayor’s wife austerity, blended with her opinions of certain townspeople, and her conviction that she is always right. I loved Ludwig’s ability to careen from the serious to the dramatic in the blink of an eye. Other standouts in this production are Drew Lakenen as Tommy Djilas, Ryleigh Jackson as Zaneeta Shinn, Amelia Bishop as Amaryllis and pitch perfect performances by Winston Leonard as Winthrop Paroo, and Jayme Winn as Mrs. Paroo. The ensemble for this production is excellent, each finding their own characters on stage and singing beautifully throughout the production.

The stand out performance in this musical is delivered by Megan Ludwig as Marian the librarian. The caliber of this young woman’s talent is nothing short of spectacular. Ludwig’s acting captures the personification of her character, her singing voice is pure gold, and she also dances with grace and perfection. Ludwig is a gracious actor and performer and someone audiences do not want to miss. This lady is going places.

I was thrilled to observe the amount of work, attention to detail and overall the fun it looks like people are having happening on stage of a high school musical. The production is fluid and character driven and even delivers a knock out curtain call. “The Music Man” will be performing only three performances and I strongly recommend attending and supporting our local and very talented youth.

Editor’s note: Denise Clark is a local performer and director.