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Wednesday, January 16 , 2019, 6:13 pm | Fog/Mist 59º


Review: ‘The Music Man” at SBCC Lives Up to Its Iconic Reputation

Classic warm and funny musical presented with panache and professionalism

Susie Couch, Craig Cady and Jim Sirianni, from left, star in The Theatre Group at SBCC’s production of Meredith Willson’s “The Music Man.”
Susie Couch, Craig Cady and Jim Sirianni, from left, star in The Theatre Group at SBCC’s production of Meredith Willson’s “The Music Man.” (Ben Crop photo)

"The Music Man," the beloved autobiographical stage musical by Meredith Wilson, has captivated generations of theater-goers since its debut in 1957.

The 1962 film version, starring Robert Preston and Shirley Jones, is no less iconic.

This story of con man Professor Harold Hill attempting to swindle the citizens of River City, Iowa, by selling them instruments and uniforms for a boys’ band to keep their sons away from the dangers of the pool hall, only to be caught in his own trap as he woos the town’s librarian/music teacher to distract her from the truth, is a classic American tale of comedy and romance.

The Theatre Group at SBCC’s version, running through Saturday, July 25, at the Garvin Theatre, lives up to this reputation, no question.

Under R. Michael Gros’ direction, the large cast of adults and children present this warm and funny story with panache and professionalism.

Music Director David Potter conducts the excellent live orchestra. Sitting in the darkened theater waiting for the show to start, the overture swelling from the pit, brings a level of anticipation and delight that’s hard to beat, and certainly evident at Sunday’s matinee.

Craig Cady is a suitably glib and charming Harold Hill, and Siobhan Doherty is winsome and clever as Marian, with a sweetly soaring singing voice.

Jim Sirianni is solid as the ever-confounded Mayor Shinn, and Susie Couch is satisfyingly over-the-top as Mrs. Shinn, with her desire for instilling an appreciation in the townspeople for the finer things in life.

Leslie Ann Story is funny and warm as Marion’s mother, Mrs. Paroo, and Dillon Yuhasz is hilarious as an anvil salesman who’s out to get Professor Hill.

The ensemble brings enthusiasm and spark to the musical numbers, and the barbershop quartet, consisting of Nicholas Ehlan, Geoffrey Lambeth, Paul Zink, and Zachary Sener is gorgeously melodious, also functioning as an effective comic foil for Professor Hill.

Another star of the show is the set design— Scenic & Lighting Designer Patricia Frank has outdone herself this time.

With sets coming in from the sides and then retracting, backdrops coming down from above, even a versatile platform center stage that raises and lowers, a multitude of settings are evoked onstage with this brilliant design. Costume Designer Pamela Shaw has also done a marvelous job with the detailed period costumes of 1912.

There are only three more chances to see this classic bit of Americana—Thursday through Saturday. For tickets, call the Garvin Theatre Box Office at 805-965-5935.

— Justine Sutton is a Santa Barbara freelance writer and frequent Noozhawk reviewer. The opinions expressed are her own.

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