If memory serves, “The Music Man“ was the first live musical I ever saw. My parents took me to a community theatre production of it when I was probably eight or nine years old. I was playing flute at the time and they thought I’d be excited by the prospect of playing in an orchestra pit one day.
Somewhere during one of the big production numbers my eyes became gigantic and my goose bumps practically lifted me out of my seat. In that moment I knew for certain that I did not want to be in the orchestra pit. I absolutely wanted to be On. That. Stage!
As significant as that experience was you might think that “The Music Man” holds a special place in my heart, but actually I consider myself neutral on it. It has never been my most or least favorite among the Classics of American Musical Theatre, a sub-set of the genre that I can be a bit snobbish towards if I’m being honest, often preferring more contemporary shows that push the envelope, or offer up a little edge and depth.
So imagine my surprise when, while watching the current revival on Broadway, I was flooded with memories specific to the show.
I remembered my friend Krista, a fellow member of the dance company I was in as a teenager. When we were assigned to perform a song as an exercise to help us appreciate musicality she sang “Goodnight, My Someone”. That mellifluous melody really stirred me, another tiny signpost pointing me to Broadway. Krista died far too young, and oh how I felt her spirit with me during that song.
I remembered the glee of learning and performing the rhythmically challenging, “Pick-a-Little, Talk-a-Little” while in a Musical Theatre class at Pasadena City College.
I remembered running spotlight on the crew of “The Music Man” at Sacred Heart University, and the great care I took to get it right. That experience taught me that every single person working on a show is a vital part of the magic. When I noticed the spotlight fade-in perfectly on Sutton Foster as Marion, I sent a virtual high five to the spot op – nice pick-up my friend!
I remembered how my Dad used to serenade my sister and me with “Good Night Ladies” on the piano at bedtime, and thought about how tickled he would be by the flawless blend of voices in the barbershop quartet. He was a classical music aficionado and Musical Theatre was a place where his snobbery and mine seemed to intersect in perfect harmony.
I thought about the intangible dazzle of stars Hugh Jackman and Sutton Foster and how just being in their presence sparks such delight. These performers have immense talent and they share it with complete grace, withholding nothing. Can you imagine if we all shared our gifts with such benevolence? Just think about that for a moment. Oh, the possibilities.
The generosity of this whole production moved me deeply. It was robust! Every number seemed to believe in its ability to stop the show.
But perhaps what I thought about most while watching the show was simply love. Theatre is always a magnificent exchange of energy: from one performer to another, from the performers to the audience, and from the audience to the performers. That exchange ignites the place inside me that knows joy, that knows hope, that knows love.
The fantastic company and crew of “The Music Man” at the Winter Garden Theatre showered us with pure, radiant love. What a gift it was to feel it wash over me. What a pleasure it was to love them right back.
The Music Man starring Hugh Jackman and Sutton Foster is currently in previews at the Winter Garden Theatre. Tickets and information can be found HERE!
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