Theatre Review

Magnificent ‘Music Man’ at Theatre-By-The-Sea

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It’s back to the ’50s, when Broadway musicals were bright and cheery, the music was memorable, and the choreography splendid.

Bill Hanney’s Theatre by the Sea has recreated “The Music Man” in all its splendor, with costumes and sets and the largest cast I can remember, all fitting comfortably on the small barn theatre stage.

A colorful map of Iowa greets you as you enter the air-conditioned theatre, rising to display a variety of sets and drops that magically add dimension to the production. Director and choreographer Richard Sabellico miraculously guides as many as 30 actors on stage at one time, choreographing intricate dance numbers to near perfection.

The cast, led by Jason Ostrowski as Professor Harold Hill and Tiffan Borelli as Marion the Librarian, are terrific, blending their voice and dance talents to new heights in this old chestnut of a musical. Borelli’s magnificent voice, especially on the classic “Goodnight My Someone” and “Till There Was You,” sets the tone for some fine ensemble singing by the cast, especially the four men making up the barbershop quartet.

Local actor Tom Gleadow has found a summer home at TBTS, adding to his growing list of memorable roles as the Mayor of River City.

You know the story: Traveling salesman with bad reputation comes to the backwater town of River City, Iowa to con the residents out of their hard-earned money. Promising to form a band to save the errant young men and rid the town of their one pool table, he sells them instruments, uniforms and instruction books, planning to skip town with the cash.

The musical is a morality play about trust and hope and all the good things in life. Of course, Hill and Marion fall in love, Marion’s lisping young brother finds confidence through the con artist, and everyone lives happily ever after.

There are no four-letter words and nothing sexier than a bare leg. The most suggestive line in the story is “He does know his brass from his oboe.” Sure, the story is dated and corny, but in today’s topsy-turvy world “The Music Man” is a refreshing respite from the six o’clock news.

The orchestra is larger and better than usual and even includes one trombone.

“The Music Man” is at Theatre-by-the-Sea through July 15. Call 782-8587 for reservations. Tickets are $46-$72.

Theatre-by-the-Sea has joined Woonsocket’s Stadium Theatre and Providence’s Trinity Rep in offering theatregoers who had purchased tickets for Ocean State Theatre to exchange them for the remaining summer season. They are also collecting donations of used instruments for the Rhode Island Rhythm and Blues Preservation Society’s Instruments for Children Scholarship Program.

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