There’s a lot going on at Attic Productions, that bustling theatrical outpost near Fincastle.
A lot of beautiful music. A lot of singin’ and dancin’, some of it pretty darn fancy.
And a whole lot of people. The playbill lists 53 performers, which sounds about right; they never stand still long enough to get a live head count. Multiple children are among them.
What’s going on is Attic’s irresistible production of “The Music Man.”
The creative team behind the venerable musical is more than ably led by director Sally Miller. She’s the one who assembled the large cast and rehearsed it for two months before taking the show public. The effort has paid off handsomely.
In her curtain speech on opening night, Miller said she had loved Meredith Willson’s show since childhood and had long dreamed of directing it herself. Her dream comes true through Aug. 10 on the spacious stage of Attic’s D. Geraldine Lawson Performing Arts Center.
The show bowed on Broadway in 1957 with book, music and lyrics by Willson and story by the composer with Franklin Lacey. It promptly captured a bundle of prizes, including Tony Awards. There are movie and TV versions and countless professional and community theater productions.
The show is set in fictional River City, Iowa, in July 1912. A con man named Harold Hill steps off the train with a scheme to sweet talk the townspeople — presumably rubes one and all — out of their hard-earned bucks.
“Professor” Hill’s false promise? To recruit and train a student band, complete with instruments and colorful uniforms — all paid for by the River City populace — in time for the town’s Ice Cream Sociable. No matter that Hill doesn’t know a treble clef from a half note. He plans to be long gone with the local dollars filling the pockets of his well-cut suit.
But a hitch appears in the comely form of Marian Paroo, River City’s librarian, piano teacher and most eligible maiden. She catches the professor’s eye, heart and conscience — and you can guess the rest.
Hill is zestfully portrayed by Brandon Mock, who spends his offstage hours as director of music and arts at Greene Memorial United Methodist Church in downtown Roanoke. He’s a talented singer and a decent hoofer, as well.
Playing opposite Mock is soprano Brynn Scozzari as Marian the Librarian. She is the show’s unquestioned star vocalist. She teaches voice in the valley and is a veteran of opera and musical theater. Scozzari’s acting chops, like Mock’s, are also pretty sharp.
There isn’t space to name every performer, but a few standouts should be mentioned. They are Chip Addison as River City’s mayor, Traci Basham Addison as his wife, Marcella Allison as their rebellious older daughter, Jake Dellinger as her suitor, Stevie Holcomb as Marian’s mother and Alex Lyons as a crony of Hill’s.
As lovers of the show know well, “The Music Man” is replete with memorable tunes including “Goodnight, My Someone,” “Till There Was You” and, of course, “Seventy-Six Trombones.”
Though occasionally a bit longish, smoothly executed dance numbers abound. “Shipoopi” and “Ya Got Trouble” are prominent among them. The ensemble singing is unfailingly harmonious in tone and timing. Comic elements mostly hit the mark. And the cast seems to be having as much fun as the audience. That’ll elevate any show.
Among the dozens who worked behind the scenes to make the big show happen are William Lininger as musical director, Will Smith as choreographer, Caitlin Smith as his assistant and Mark Moomaw as set designer (with Miller). The performers are handsomely costumed by Freda Wood and her team. Lighting is by Katerina Yancey.
As patrons filed out after the opening night performance, there was a sense that they had witnessed something special. They had; Attic’s “The Music Man” is amateur theater at its best.