"The Music Man" - by Meredith Willson - Theatre at the Mount (Gardner, MA.) - REVIEW

(Cover Photo: The CAST of the iconic family favorite, "THE MUSIC MAN" by Meredith Willson now playing at Theatre at the Mount in Gardner, MAthrough March 3, 2024Photo Credit Laura Cavanaugh)

By Kevin T. Baldwin

METRMAG Reviewer

# 774-242-6724

“And there was music, and there were wonderful roses, they tell me; in sweet fragrant meadows of dawn and dew."

                      -   ("Marion Paroo") / Meredith Willson

Theatre at the Mount  


Iconic Broadway Musical

Meredith Willson's


Written by Meredith Willson

Directed by Terrie Hyde

Music Director Senja Morgan 

Choreographer Alison Hall   

Cast Includes: Ryan Malyar as “Harold Hill,” Alyson Foisy as “Marion Paroo,” Trish Aponte as “Eulalie Shinn,” Mark Peterson as “Mayor Shinn,” Sam Gagnon as “Marcellus Washburn,” Kathy Taylor as “Mrs. Paroo,” Jovan Tremblay as “Timmy Djilas,” Isabel Coviello as “Zaneeta Shinn,” Andy Smith as “Winthrop Paroo,” Craig Cormier as “Jacey Squires,” Amelia Cormier as “Amaryllis,” Paul Caouette as “Oliver Hix,” Michael Celularo as “Olin Britt,” Amanda Lawton as “Maud Dunlop,” Taylor Lawton as “Ewart Dunop,” Jillian Whitney as “Ethel Toffelmier,” Elaine Crane as “Alma Hix,” Rachel Twiss as “Mrs. Squires,” Michael Babineau as “Charlie Cowell,” Corinne Sweeney as “Gracie Shinn,” Roy Ellis as “Conductor/Constable”

Additional Creative Team:

Producing Director - Gail Steele; Technical Director/Set Designer - Joshua Patino; Lighting Designer - Tim Smith; Sound Engineer - Sean Kyle; Costumers - Eric Baird, Doreen Croteau and Meredith Heimo; Stage Manager - Emily Smith; Props Manager - Ashley LaBarre; Spotlight Operators - Annie Cormier and Lucas Faucher; Box Office Manager - Paul Caouette; Box Office Staff - Katrina Baer and David Allen Prescott; Graphic Designer - Kyle Rolston; Lobby Display and Signage - Lori Adams; Construction Crew - Mike Dickson, Sam Gagnon, Lilly Lannon, Sabrina Lewis, David Simpson, Hyphen Sawyer; Running Crew - Ashley LaBarre, Michael Audet, Casey Manseau, Kira Taylor, Cal Simao, Peter Russo.

Performance Dates: 

February 23 & 24, 2024 at 7:00pm  

March 1 & 2, 2024 at 7:30pm 

March 3, 2024 at 2:00pm

Mount Wachusett Community College, 44 Green Street, Room 182, Gardner, MA.


Tickets are available online at mwcc.universitytickets.com or by phone at 978-630-9388. 

For additional information contact Professor Gail Steele at 978 630-9162 or g_steele@mwcc.mass.edu  


Contact Venue for Most Updated COVID-19 Safety Protocols and Information.

With Theatre at the Mount’s (TATMlatest offering, "THE MUSIC MAN," the bells are ringing loud and clear supported by a delightful cast and a live orchestra with trombones, horns and more in this captivating staged production.

With a book, music, and lyrics all by Meredith Willson (based on a story by Willson and Franklin Lacey), the TATM production is shrewdly directed by Terrie Hyde

Supplementing the action is a fabulous live orchestra, conducted by J. Senja Morgan. There may not be 76 trombones present, but the fine musicians playing for this production are absolutely a welcome addition.

In 1957, "THE MUSIC MAN" became a hit on Broadway, winning five Tony Awards, including Best Musical, and running for 1,375 performances. 

Featuring one of the most memorable scores in Broadway history, the original cast recording spent 245 weeks on the Billboard chart and was the winner of the first Grammy Award for Best Musical Theater Album

It was also made into an unforgettable motion picture in 1962 with Robert Preston, Shirley Jones, Buddy Hackett and a very young actor named Ron Howard

(Photo: Alyson Foisy as “Marion Paroo" with Amelia Cormier as “Amaryllis” says goodnight to someone in a moment from "THE MUSIC MAN" by Meredith Willson now playing at Theatre at the Mount in Gardner, MAthrough March 3, 2024Photo Credit Laura Cavanaugh)

The plot of "THE MUSIC MAN" concerns con man traveling salesman Harold Hill (Ryan Malyar), who poses as a boys' band organizer and leader. 

Malyar is marvelously entertaining and charismatic as flim flammer "Professor Hill," who sells band instruments and uniforms to naïve Iowa townsfolk, promising to also train the members of the new band...for an added fee. 

Before long, aided by his likeable compatriot swindler, Marcellus (Sam Gagnon), Hill has bedazzled the entire town while keeping local authorities held at bay. 

Malyar completely nails Hill's musical numbers, most notably "Ya Got" Trouble," "Seventy-Six Trombones," "The Sadder-But-Wiser Girl" and "Marian The Librarian.

Gagnon puts in the effort as Marcellus and, while it mostly pays off, he apparently is not able to dance up a storm as expected in the musical number "Shipoopi." 

Thankfully, Malyar steps in and fills that gap, leading the ensemble in the high stepping number, impressively choreographed by Allison Hall.

Other fabulously choreographed numbers include "The Wells Fargo Wagon," "Ya Got" Trouble," "Seventy-Six Trombonesand "Marian The Librarian." 

Hall's choreography completely dominates, delights and enhances the numbers by infusing many clever touches and, more over, a great deal of humor. 

The River City school board members, aka the musical's "Barbershop Quartet," was well represented thanks to the beautifully blended voices of Craig Cormier as “Jacey Squires,” Paul Caouette as “Oliver Hix,” Michael Celularo as “Olin Britt” and Taylor Lawton as “Ewart Dunop.”

The Barbershop numbers "It's You," "Ice Cream/Sincere," "Lida Rose" and the always amusing, "Pick-a-Little, Talk-a-Little/Goodnight Ladies" sung with the Ladies of River City society are simply superb.

One number that is always the "Achilles' Heel" of any "MUSIC MAN" staging is the show's opener, "Rock Island" - perhaps Broadway's first legit "rap song" which has most of the participants facing sideways, supposedly in a moving train car.

Musically, this gets the show off to a shaky start - literally. The actors literally shake and deliver their lines in rhythm, supported by the percussion section of the orchestra. 

Precision timing is critical to whether or not the number is a success. 

During the opening night performance, pacing for sections of the "Rock Island" number felt a bit rushed but, once it concluded, the curtain opened and the show really began to take off with the ensemble number, "Iowa Stubborn." 

(Photo: Sam Gagnon as “Marcellus Washburn" and Ryan Malyar as “Harold Hill” with the CAST of "THE MUSIC MAN" by Meredith Willson now playing at Theatre at the Mount in Gardner, MAthrough March 3, 2024Photo Credit Laura Cavanaugh)

The townspeople become totally hypnotized by smooth talking Hill. However, the unsuspecting sheep have no clue that this "Professor" is no musician. 

He is a con man who intends to take the local yokels’ monies and skip town before he actually has to “teach” a single music lesson. 

Prim librarian and piano teacher Marion Paroo (Alyson Foisy) sees through Harold’s charade, but soon ‘changes her tune’ as Harold helps her younger brother, Winthrop (Andy Smith) overcome his lisp and social awkwardness. 

Foisy excels at the Marion numbers including "Good Night, My Someone," "My White Knight," "Will I Ever Tell You" and the most memorable ballad from the entire show, "Till There Was You."    

Foisy is a tremendous vocalist and is completely in tune with the character of Marion, who soon falls in love with Harold who also soon finds himself with a foot caught in the door.

Amelia Cormier appears in the show as Winthrop's taunting-yet-would-be admirer, “Amaryllis,” and joins in nicely singing part of Marion's song, "Good Night, My Someone,which also showcased some of the exceptional lighting choices made throughout the show.  

Kathy Taylor as Marion's loveable, irascible mother, “Mrs. Paroo” and Andy Smith as Marion's troubled younger brother, “Winthrop,” give enthusiastic performances and Smith's touching solo during "The Wells Fargo Wagon" just might bring a slight tear to your eye.

(Photo: Ryan Malyar as “Harold Hill” recollects a truly historical trombone moment in a scene from "THE MUSIC MAN" by Meredith Willson now playing at Theatre at the Mount in Gardner, MAthrough March 3, 2024Photo Credit Laura Cavanaugh)

Costumes for the production are not only period specific, they are colorful and vibrant, offsetting the drab and dull Iowa setting with a marvelous luminosity.

The massive primary sets used to depict downtown River City, Iowa are absolutely beautiful. 

However, for anyone expecting the sets to turn around to showcase other interiors (such as the required scenes for the gymnasium, library and other locations)...surprisingly, they do not. 

The effort to fill the stage completely, which these sets do, prevents the above from happening. 

That said, the set does not take away from much of the action and the configuration actually allows the show to run more fluidly, as a result. 

Other standout performances include Mark Peterson as “Mayor Shinn” out to nail Hill, whom he distrusts and Trish Aponte as his wife, “Eulalie.” 

Aponte, especially, is firmly situated in her comedic element as the hilarious "Eulalie," giving perhaps the best scene stealing moments of the night with a performance worthy of famed comedic actress Andrea Martin.

Shinn also attempts to keep town rascal, Timmy Djilas (Jovan Tremblay) away from his oldest daughter, Zaneeta (Isabel Coviello). 

Both Tremblay and Coviello perform well as Tommy and Zaneeta and are fine singers and dancers, yet seem to lack the required chemistry normally associated with the couple.

Similarly, the chemistry is also a bit lacking in the interactions between Malyar and Foisy

Again, the actors, independently, are outstanding in their respective roles and excel in all the musical numbers, but any romantic scenes, unfortunately, fall a little flat.

Any of the above are relatively minor complaints, really, and certainly nothing that prevented the enthusiastic opening night crowd from enjoying this timeless musical.  

One of the most engaging musicals ever written, everyone should plan on seeing this fine production of "THE MUSIC MAN." 

Up next as part of the Theatre at the Mount’s 2024/2025 season will be "THE PROM" by Chad Beguelin, Bob Martin & Matthew Sklar.

Tickets are available online at mwcc.universitytickets.com or by phone at 978-630-9388. 

For additional information contact Professor Gail Steele at 978 630-9162 or g_steele@mwcc.mass.edu  

Approximately two hours, 30 minutes with one intermission

Kevin T. Baldwin is a member of the American Theatre Critics Association (ATCA) 




As Meredith Willson's classic story of "THE MUSIC MAN" begins, there’s trouble in River City! 

When smooth-talking con man Harold Hill arrives in a small, tight-knit town in Iowa, he expects to dupe its residents with his elaborate moneymaking scheme. 

Despite his complete lack of musical literacy, he will convince everyone that he is a brilliant bandleader and recruit all the boys in town to form a band, pocketing the cash for instruments and uniforms. 

The problem? 

Some of the town members, especially the stern librarian, Marian Paroo, don’t quite buy Harold’s story. 

As Harold struggles to keep his scheme afloat, he also finds himself increasingly attached to the townspeople, who have all experienced a positive change since Harold came to town. 

Complicating matters even more, Harold is also falling head-over-heels for the beautiful Marian. 

As All-American as apple pie and as charming as can be, "THE MUSIC MAN" is a crowd-pleasing show with a great number and range of roles that is well-suited to professional, community, and school productions alike. 

Mount Wachusett Community College

444 Green Street 

Gardner, MA 01440