‘The Music Man’ at Charm City Players

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The Music Man is Charm City Players’ summer production that is sure to dazzle and delight all ages. With Book, music, and lyrics by Meredith Wilson, The Music Man is based on a story written by Wilson and Franklin Lacey.

As always, Charm City Players, Inc., founders Stephen and Christina Napp, take a hands-on approach as they have in their previous shows. Stephen continues in his multiple roles as Director, and Scenic Coordinator and Construction. This time Christina plays the role of Ethel Toffelmeir, a very fitting character that matches her spunky personality and her lovely singing voice.

J. Hargrove ( Marcellus Washburn) and E. Lee Nicol (Professor Harold Hill). Photo by Lindsey Taylor Photography.
J. Hargrove ( Marcellus Washburn) and E. Lee Nicol (Professor Harold Hill). Photo by Lindsey Taylor Photography.

The Music Man centers around con man and Professor Harold Hill (E. Lee Nicol), who poses as a boys’ band organizer and leader.  He sells instruments and uniforms to the naive townsfolks of River City, Iowa, with the promise of training new band members. The catch – Harold is far from a musician and plans to skip town without giving any lessons. Nicol is charming as ever in a lead role and even though his character is a fraud, when he is willing to risk it all for love, Harold really becomes a likable character. His rendition of ‘Trouble’ was flawless.

Nicol shares the spotlight and his splendid voice with love interest Marian Paroo (Melissa Ann Martin) in the song, “’Till There Was You.” Marian is the prim and proper librarian and piano teacher, who sees through Harold’s charade. Martin does a good job taking this character from straitlaced to a gal in love, especially when she realizes it is Harold that helps her younger brother, Winthrop (Logan Dubel) overcome his lisp and social awkwardness.

Dubel is cute as can be especially when he is teamed with Martin and Thomas in the song, “Gary, Indiana.” He holds his own and the trio is quite entertaining.

Widow Mrs. Paroo (Christine Thomas) is Marian and Winthrop’s Irish mother but in some way she’s everybody’s mother. A sweet homemaker, she wants the best for everyone, especially her children. While she dotes on her son, she willing gives Marian advice about finding a man. Even though she falls for Harold’s con, in the end she cheers the love that Marian has found with him. Christine  Thomas is loveable in the role.

Marcellus Washburn (J. Hargrove) is confident to Harold Hill but they have known each from years ago. Hargrove is quite comical with this character and is top-notch with his singing and dancing numbers, especially when he lead the troupe in “Shipoopi.” He pairs well with Nicol in the song, “The Sadder But Wiser Girl,” a light-hearted, soft-shoe number.

Mr. Shinn (Mike Ware) is the Mayor of River City, who is not terribly bright and has a tendency to get things wrong. A stereotypical politician, he actually is one-half of the comic-relief in this show. Additionally, Mayor Shinn is pretentious and extremely protective of daughter, Zaneeta (Madeleine Tindall), who is dating “bad boy” Tommy (Dawson Hill). Mr. Ware delivers a convincing and comical performance.

The Mayor’s wife is played Eulalie Shinn (Debby Sutton) and is definitely the other half of the “Shinn comic-relief team.” This is a fun character that is a tad-bit on the absent-minded side that manages to put together and pull off her silly ideas. She is a hoot in the number, “Columbia, Gem of the Ocean,” that she performs in her form-fitting flag costume.

Costume Designer, Lynn Kellner knocks it out of the park with her elaborate period designs from the early 1900s. The Women’s Auxiliary characters wear form-fitting long skirts and blouses that are flowered and striped or a bright solid color coupled with a pattern. There is some layering that occurs made of lace or chiffon. Millinery, Mary Gorman is exceptionally creative with the ladies oversized hats that are decorated with flowers, feathers, and lace. The teen girls’ dresses are true to the 1912 time period; knee-length dresses made of cotton and accentuate with lace and satin sashes.

The male actors wear fancy three-piece suits in varying shades of browns or grays. The quartet wears dark pants coupled with red and white striped jackets and their hats are known as Skimmer hats. Many of the male cast members wear Derby hats that nicely complete their costumes.

From Left to Right: Melissa Ann Martin (Marian Paroo), Logan Dubel (Winthrop), and Christine Thomas (Mrs. Paroo). Photo by Lindsey Taylor Photography.
From Left to Right: Melissa Ann Martin (Marian Paroo), Logan Dubel (Winthrop), and Christine Thomas (Mrs. Paroo). Photo by Lindsey Taylor Photography.

Sound Technician Kevin Hopkins and Music Supervisor Nathan Scavilla lend their talents to the Production staff as well. Rounding out the Orchestra is Jared Denhard, Steve Hassler, Mari Hill, Daniel Pendley, and N. Scott Robinson, along with Music Director Kathryn Weaver.

The Music Man relies on an ensemble cast that performs such memorable showstoppers like “Iowa Stubborn,” and “Seventy-six Trombones.” And Charm City Players delivers another big production with a cast of approximately 50 actors of all ages.

The ensemble cast includes contributing vocals from the Harbor City Barbershop Quartet comprised of Olin Britt (Jonathon Brune), Ewart Dunlop (Tim Prevatt), Jacey Squires (Sam Doolittle), and Oliver Hix (Fredrick Frye) who are also school board members.

Charlie Cowell (James Rittner) is a rival traveling salesman; Constable Locke (Jeffery Baker) is a police officer; Amaryllis (Susanna Hoffman) is a young piano student; Conductor (Patrick Rudai); River City Kid (Andi Rudai); Gracie Shinn (Elizabeth Mingo) Mayor’s youngest daughter; Maud Dunlop (Christina Harris Ramsey) and Mrs. Squires (Sandy Rybczynski).

The River City Townspeople Supporting Cast include: B’Jion Darby Brandenburg, Patricia Brunker, Natalie Dixon, Ann Elliot, Chloe Ennis, Jillian Fleischer, Peggy Friedman, Abrea Hoffman, Gabriel Hoffman, James Hoffman, Krista Hoffman, Lindsey Taylor, Latman Ligia Mardari, Rebecca Mingo, Parker Napp, Thomas Ogar, Amy Rudai, PJ Rudai, Samantha Rudai, Victoria Rudai, Anna Sannes, Yael Seaman, and Maggie Witherup-Allen.

mainThe Music Man is a lovely and light-hearted show. Not only does Stephen and Christian Napp’s production know-how make Charm City Players’ shows so pleasing, it is their loyal focus on G-rated entertainment and family fun that have audience members returning again and again.

The Music Man plays through August 2, 2015 at Charm City Players  performing at the Hannah More Arts Center on St. Timothy’s School campus – 8400 Greenspring Avenue, in Stevenson, MD. For tickets, call (410) 472-4737, or purchase them online.

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Danielle Angeline
Danielle Angeline was bit by the theater bug when she took a set design class in college. Her instructor reminded her of George Michael (Got to Have Faith). She then decided to major in technical theater and design at Towson State University. After graduating, this led her to work at Universal Studios Florida and the Carnival Cruise Lines as a stage manager, group coordinator and arcade manager. Returning home to Maryland, her career transitioned from CAD work to a technical writer/trainer for the past 15 years. During that time, Danielle volunteered as an Information Specialist with the Smithsonian. Museum assignments included Natural History, Portrait Gallery, and the Castle. She is now pursuing her theatre/arts career again as a writer and dedicating herself to her greatest passions: theatre, writing, family & friends, painting, tasty & innovative cuisine and her cats: Cheyanne and Sierra.