Review - The Music Man (NODA Magazine, July 2019)

Following a very warm welcome, we were straight into a great night of musical theatre entertainment from Runway with this gem of a show, The Music Man. A show not done often, this cast really brought it to life and with the very talented cast, the audience were taken back to 1912, River City Iowa.

The opening piece displayed a talented group of men,who pulled off an extremely difficult rhythmic, unaccompanied well articulated display as they journeyed in the train. I would have to say that this opening number was really faultless with every word heard as clear as a bell – not to mention the well timed body movements portraying the flow and rhythm of the train. It was a real treat to see Robert Fyfe in his cameo role in the opening section of the show.

Arriving in River City took us to the introduction of the many townspeople, each bringing their own stories and characters to life. It was a delight to see Brendan Lynch playing Harold Hill, bringing his triple talent in singing, acting and dance to the stage. The interpretation of “(Ya Got) Trouble” was exemplary; the audience missed none of the story told in this extremely fast paced patter song.We enjoyed the performance throughout the show of his partner in crime Marcellus Washburn, played by J Campbell Kerr, who brought just the right level of humour to the role. Catherine Mackenzie playing the role of Marion displayed her vocal ability and acting with great ease in the interpretation of the role. The blend of both Catherine and Brendan’s vocals was one that you don’t get the pleasure of experiencing too often.

The talented barbershop quartet, Tom Russell, Bob McDevitt, Ross Nicol and Cameron Leask, worked well together with ease, and made it sound as if they had been singing barbershop as a group for most of their stage career. They were equally matched by the five ladies who took us on a journey through “Pickalittle (Talk-A-Little)” with fun, and joined by a great ensemble, it was great to watch and listen to the tittle-tattle of women.

The Mayor, Will Pollock, and his wife Eulalie, Lindsey Ross, worked well opposite each other with their wit and eccentricity in equal parts. You can never fault Will for his excellent comedic timing. The children were well cast and I had the pleasure of seeing Iona, Finlay and Charlotte. Finlay made an excellent job as he developed his character from the shy boy early in the show to be the confident young man having adopted the “Think Method”. I have no doubt that Tilda, Layton and Millie also brought their talents to bear in the roles in the alternative performances. The ensemble of children were all well chosen for their talents and I can’t help but mention the youngest on the stage and how he knew every word, and move in all the right places – a star in the making.

As always, no show would be complete without the hard working ensemble of adults. The harmony in the singing was strong and maintained throughout the show. The band under the direction of David Dunlop was well balanced with the principals and ensemble. Choreography by Greg Robertson was completely stylised for the period of the piece and the famous “Seventy-Six Trombones” was precise and lively.

Shows don’t happen without the work of the backstage and front of house team and this production was no exception. Smooth scene changes under the direction of Stage Manager Edward Gunn, lighting and sound, wigs, hair, make-up and costumes to name a few, ensured the show had the detail applied that it deserved. With Robert Fyfe in charge of the overall direction and production, this show not often performed, brought the book, music and lyrics of Meredith Wilson to life.

Well done Runway on another successful show.