"The Music Man" has one of the catchiest, most memorable scores in all of musical theater. Try these highlights from Tuesday's opening at the Music Circus:
("Trouble in River City," "Wells Fargo Wagon," "76 Trombones")
Need I mention that Sacramento's nickname is River City, and the Music Circus venue is the Wells Fargo Pavilion? Attending a performance of "The Music Man" with an enthusiastic Music Circus audience is like participating in a pep rally.
The added dimension to this production is the presence of Shirley Jones, a leading lady in the world of musical theater back in the 1950s. She played Marian the Librarian in the 1962 movie version of "The Music Man," opposite Robert Preston. The Music Circus audience greeted her like royalty when she came onstage.
Fifty years have passed since the movie's premiere. And nowadays Jones plays the wise, good-hearted Irish widow Mrs. Paroo - a role that involves a modest amount of singing and only a few dance steps, but still leaves plenty of room for Jones to radiate maternal ethnic charm, and spin a bit of blarney.
Mrs. Paroo: "Out of a crowd I'll pick you for a hod-carrying, clay-pipe smokin, shamrock-wearin, harp-playin, Mavorneen pinchin', Tara's hall minstrel-singin Irishman! Be-gob and be-jabbers! Where are ye from, me boy?"
Harold Hill: "Gary, Indiana"
"Mrs. Paroo: "I knew it… Where's you say?"
Harold Hill: "Gary, Indiana…"
Opposite Jones in that exchange is her son Patrick Cassidy, who brings charm as the loveable lout Harold Hill. But the evening's special surprise comes after the curtain call. Jones relates how she was pregnant with Patrick during the filming of "The Music Man," but this was kept secret. However, the baby's kicks in mama's tummy almost blew the filming of the movie's big romantic scene. Shirley Jones.
JONES to the audience: "Well here we are, Bob Preston and myself, arms tight around each other, eyes closed, all ready for that great big kiss. And all of a sudden Bob opened his eyes, and he stepped back, and he said 'What in the heck was that?' And I said, 'That was Patrick Cassidy.'"
Seeing this legendary leading lady and her versatile, talented son onstage together, surrounded by the cascade of music and dancing that marks a good Music Circus show, makes this "Music Man" one of the touching highlights of the company's 62-year history.
The Music Circus production of The Music Man continues through Sunday, August 5th.