Stage Capsule Reviews

Published: July 26, 2007

The Music Man There is no musical more American than this classic from Meredith Willson (1957). With its ragtime-infused score, Iowan homegrown wit, barbershop quartet and all-American bad-boy hero, it could only have been written in the good ol' USA. You know the plot: Conman Harold Hill scams innocent townsfolk into supporting a boys' band that will keep the kids out of trouble at the pool hall. ("Trouble with a capital T, and that rhymes with P, and that stands for pool," he croons seductively.) When they order instruments and uniforms, he absconds with the money. He's redeemed when he falls in love with prim, but wise, town librarian Marian. The show is amazingly clever and tune-filled (the first number is music-less, with traveling salesmen mimicking the rhythms and sounds of the train they're riding as they debate the inevitable changes in the modern world). This quirky musical is one of a kind and not seen often enough onstage. Country Playhouse does fairly well with it, except for its overpowering small orchestra, which drowns out almost every singer, and the overbearing dancing townsfolk — and I mean the entire town — clumping around en masse onstage. The cast is enormous, which means at least 100 feet are pounding out the dance routines. Do you know how loud that is? Roy Johnson (The Music Man) lacks the innate pizzazz this ultimate conman must have, and there's not much chemistry with Marian (Deborah Tushnet), who has a lovely soprano when not drowned out by the aforementioned music makers. But the barbershop quartet, the staging of the library scene and the quintessential gossipy "Pickalittle Talkalittle" ladies are all very fine indeed. Through July 28. 12802 Queensbury, 713-467-4497. — DLG

Thoroughly Modern Millie What exactly is the point in casting two leading men who can't sing in a musical? [...]