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  • Writer's pictureladiesvoices

Music Man

John, David, Richard and I saw *The Music Man* on Broadway on May 18, 2022.

I'm not sure I have the specifics right on this, but I seem to think that our tickets were originally for November 2020, then moved to February 2021, then again to September 2021, then finally landed on May 2022. None of us had ever lived through such a saga for a show.

It was a starry cast, with Hugh Jackman as Harold Hill, Sutton Foster as Marian the Librarian, Shuler Hensley as Hill's wingman, Jefferson Mays as the mayor, Jayne Houdyshell as the mayor's wife, and Marie Mullen as Marian's mother. Directed by Jerry Zaks, who had done such a brilliant job with the recent revival of *Hello, Dolly!*

I saw a community theatre production back in the 90s (David Erb was the music director for that, for those of you who know David) but besides that I had never seen the show or the movie. I knew it was going to be corny and vigorous and it certainly didn't skimp on either of those things.

Hugh Jackman was the undisputed star of the show. I'd never seen him onstage so this was a real treat. The page says that the role of Professor Harold Hill is "widely agreed to be the greatest role ever created for an actor in the history of musical theater." Um, NO. I would put Sweeney Todd at the top of that list and a few other roles above Hill, but it certainly is a showy part and Jackman made the most of it. John felt like he would have been served by some slightly higher keys to hit his sweet spot. They certainly had enough time to retool those orchestrations. Anyway, I thought Jackman was delightful. The charisma is ka-POW, his voice is firm and handsome, he's a fabulous dancer, he's got the whole package and was worth the wait.

I adore Sutton Foster, have seen her many times, was a big fan of her TV show *Younger,* etc. I was tickled and a little intrigued to see her being cast in this role. It was written for the one and only Barbara Cook, who I'd describe as a classical soprano who made her living in the Broadway musical idiom. Foster, on the other hand, is a real old-fashioned Broadway performer. I was impressed with how well she did - - her voice was smooth and lovely, she gave a delightful performance, she sang it on her terms and was a success. She and Jackman had crackling chemistry, which is a must. Her best singing was in "Til There Was You," such a lovely song. John saw the flip side problem with her - - he thought her keys could have been a bit LOWER.

All of the supporting players were tremendous. I was most excited to see the brilliant Irish actor Marie Mullen in this show, her first Broadway role since winning the Tony for *The Beauty Queen of Leenane* way back in 1998. What a treat to hear that ripe, musical Irish accent. She's a treasure.

Two other things I'll mention: first, the show is littered with children. There are 21 kids in this show making their Broadway debuts. They were all adorable and terrifically talented. I can't even begin to imagine what it must be like for them. And I lit up like a pinball machine every time the barbershop quartet came onstage. Wow, those guys were stellar, they totally nailed the style.

I was in tears many times during the show. The exuberance was overpowering. This was a severe case of delayed theatrical gratification.

One more juicy tidbit for you:

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