With the wit and charm of a crafty salesman, West Springfield’s cast and crew did more than just stick their foot in the door; they marched right into our hearts with their production of Meredith Willson’s "The Music Man"
Transported back to a bygone era, Willson’s River City is the wholesome small town found in the nooks and crannies of America’s heartland. Harold Hill, a smooth-talking traveling salesmen, weasels his way into the close-knit community, promising them a boys band, a plan that he doesn’t intend to follow. All goes well until he happens upon Marian Paroo, a librarian who melts away his glossy exterior, changing him into a fine, upstanding citizen.
Harold Hill was enthusiastically portrayed by Kelly Snow, equipped with a devilish grin, silver-tongued dialogue, and quick-stepping dance moves. Sara Meinhofer, as Marian Paroo, was the perfect romantic lead. Her spot-on vocals had an angelic and honest quality that far surpassed her teenage years.
Supporting the strong leads were a smorgasbord of interesting and defined characters. Marcellus Washburn, Hill’s right hand man, was comically portrayed by Henry Dodge. His endearing and loveable appeal was especially noted in the laughable number "The Sadder-But-Wiser Girl." Mrs. Paroo, Marian’s mother, had the classic characteristics of a good mother, with the added layer of a precise Irish accent.
With a name like Eulalie Machecknie Shinn, there’s no wonder the mayor’s wife (Chelsea Reba) became a standout character with her snooty remarks and grandiose gestures that added many laughable moments. Her ensemble of pick-a-little ladies was equally amusing, each with a defined and noticeable character.
Another standout in the performance was the quartet of School Board members. Songs such as "Lida Rose" and "Goodnight Ladies" were delectable and satisfying due to the near perfect harmonies.
Sara Meinhofer pulled double duty as Marian and choreographer. Complete with back handsprings, multiple fouettes and large dance numbers, the true spectacle of the show became very apparent. West Springfield’s pit orchestra was exceptional, keeping pace with the actors and adding a lively element to the show.
Further excelling the piece was the lighting of Levi Barraclough, Arden Scott and Heidi Mull. From the general wash of the stage in huge group numbers, to isolating the actors in a humble spotlight, the variety of lighting techniques used added multiple layers to the performance. Sets, deigned by David Woody, Wayne Hawkins, Valerie Lapointe and Katie Eargle, were picturesque. The set was intricate and artistic, seeming to be straight out of a perfectly crafted painting of a typical small town.
A throwback to an age forgotten, West Springfield High School revived this 50-year-old musical with as much sweet and tender wholesomeness as a classic American apple pie. "The Music Man" brought mirth and joy with song and dance, and even a big brass band.