Music Man set for April 24
By By Michele Gerlach
Special to the Advance
The curtain will go up on Jefferson Davis Community College's performance of "The Music Man" at 7 p.m. this Friday and Saturday, April 25 and 26, in Woodfin Patterson Auditorium.
Members of the cast agree that "Music Man" will be a crowd pleaser because it's funny and the music is familiar.
"The Music Man" is the story of traveling salesman, Harold Hill, and his visit to a small Iowa town in 1912 where he meets and falls in love with the willful, spinster librarian, Marian Paroo.
Atmore's Karl Robinson has the lead role of Harold Hill and Deana Hart of Brewton is cast as Marian Paroo.
Robinson said his role is lots of fun.
"I fell in love with this play about 20 years ago when my wife was in it as a JDCC student," he said.
Allison Nelson Robinson was cast as Mrs. Paroo, mother of Marian Paroo, when Hermine Downing staged "Music Man" at JDCC.
"I always loved theatre, but I never imagined that I would have the time to do it," Karl Robinson said. "Now I'm spending all of my extra time at practice."
Robinson's co-star, Deanna Hart, also was introduced to the theatre at JDCC.
"My husband (Larry Hart) and I were a part of JD Jazz in the late 1980s," Mrs. Hart, the former Deanna Laddusaw, said. "We were always required to be extras and work on productions, but I had never done a role this big."
Robinson made his stage debut as Franklin Delano Roosevelt in a community production of "Annie" in the summer of 2001. He took the role because his family was involved in the summer production. He was Fagan in last summer's production of "Oliver," and was Tiny Tim's father in the fall JDCC production of "A Christmas Carol."
Director Phil Johnson says Robinson's current role in "Music Man," Harold Hill is "the best Broadway role ever written for a man."
"There are a lot of really good characters in this play," Robinson said. "Harold Hill is really a bad guy, but he's such a likeable bad guy, you forget that he's bad."
Mrs. Hart was cast as Belle in the fall production of "A Christmas Carol." While she enjoyed that role, she said she absolutely loves playing "Marian the librarian."
"I am married and the mother of three kids," she said. "Being Marian, for two hours each night I become a single, stuck-up librarian. It's a lot of fun."
Barbara Maddox, who is cast as Marian's mother, Mrs. Paroo, said one of the things that makes "Music Man" so enjoyable is that the characters in the Iowa town in which the play is set take themselves so seriously.
Mrs. Hart agreed and said the characters are so funny that it's sometimes difficult to get through a scene without laughing.
Cast as mother and daughter, the two get along really well. Mrs. Maddox, who has done community theater for years, said that in the past she's been cast in roles that vary from ghost to witch.
"I love this character," she said. "She is very outspoken and interrupts people to give her opinion. She is just a hoot. When this 'professor,' Harry Hill, moves to town, she latches on to him and decides she wants him for her daughter."
"The Music Man" includes well-known Broadway tunes such as "76 Trombones," "'Til There Was You," and "Gary, Indiana."
Robinson said his favorite song that his character does is "Trouble," but his favorite in the play is "Til There Was You," a beautiful love song sung by Mrs. Hart's character. Mrs. Hart's favorite "Music Man" song is the train song which opens the play.
Other members of the cast include Stephen Billy as Winthrop Paroo; Steve Billy as Marcellus Washburn; The Four J's Quartet – Jerry Stahly, Jerry Gehman, Phil Johnson and Bruce Moore – as the school board; Becky Moore, Jo Downing, Barbara Harvey and Donna Lindsey as the Del Sarte Ladies; Owen Milligan as Mayor Shinn; Cathy Coxwell as Euleylie McKenckney Shinn; Ellen Johnson as Gracie Shinn; Megan Martin as Zanetta Shinn; Bruce Long as Constable Locke; David Rush as Charlie Cowell; and Eugene Berry as Tommy Djelas.
When it originally was produced on Broadway in the 1950s it ran for 1,375 performances, starring Barbara Cook and making a star of Robert Preston.
A classic film version of the musical also starred Robert Preston, Shirley Jones and a very young Ron Howard.