OGDEN — The Music Man, written by Meredith Willson and premiering on Broadway in 1957, became a hit and has been a fan favorite for over 60 years. Now in 2019, the Terrace Plaza in Ogden has decided to bring the show to life again with director Lindy Combe at the helm. The story follows a salesman, Harold Hill, who pretends to sell boys band instruments and music lessons while promising to organize a band with uniforms and concerts to naive townsfolk, taking their money, and planning to skip town before anyone can be any wiser. But of course, love sneaks in and ruins poor Professor Hill’s plans. With iconic music that is recognizable by most musical theatre fans, this musical is a family favorite and a fun summertime treat.
Set design by Dennis Ferrin is strong, with a great backdrop of the town and a really good library for the scene with the, “Marian the Librarian,” song. I was also enamored by the train, the footbridge, and the city hall that were all well designed and constructed.
The standout in Terrace’s production design has to be the costumes designed by Stephanie Petersen and Jim Tatton, with a special shout out to the ladies hats designed by designer and producer Jacci Olsen Florence. I saw at least five hats that I wish I could take home for my own collection. In addition, the dresses, especially those worn by Marian, played by Sarah Johnson, are particularly lovely, and the costumes worn by the dancing ladies are full of color and had a bright aesthetic that was fun to watch.
Choreographer Shelby Moon also does a nice job bringing together some wonderful numbers in this show, with the familiar songs such as, “The Wells Fargo Wagon,” and, “(Ya Got) Trouble.” Main music direction by Lindy Combe is beautiful, and the whole ensemble puts together a fine musical performance combining music, dance, and acting. There are several standouts in each area. My personal favorite for choreography of the night is the “Marian the Librarian” song, where the movements that are needed to keep in time with the crisp and specific rhythms are integral to the execution of the performance. Director Lindy Combe does a fantastic job of executing that number with precision. My favorite for vocals is, “Iowa Stubborn,” and my favorite overall is the finale to the first act, “The Wells Fargo Wagon.”
Michael Combe as Harold Hill and Sarah Johnson as Marian Paroo are well matched as the two leads. Michael Combe as Harold Hill does well as the manipulative salesman who comes into town to get the “stubborn” Iowan families to buy band instruments and uniforms even though he does not know a thing about music. Johnson does Marian justice, playing the strong, intelligent, educated woman who has to step up and take care of her mother and brother when her father dies, leaving the family to care for themselves. It is an interesting picture of early American society, when people are quite willing to question the strength and intelligence of a woman and quick to fawn over the charming, handsome gentleman who says the right things at the right time. Johnson plays this difficult role well, balancing the strong intelligence that has the ability to see Hill’s flaws with the compassion to see him as a person with potential and kindness. I am not sure that I have even made that jump, still seeing him as a manipulative character, but Johnson as Marian sees Hill as a person who can perhaps grown and change. As an actor, Michael Combe is indeed charming, and the songs such as, “(Ya Got) Trouble,” and, “76 Trombones” are fun and entertaining to watch. His voice does those songs justice. The pair have great chemistry, and the song, “Til There Was You” is lovely both musically and visually.
The Music Man is known for its quartet music, and Erik Hawkins is billed as the quartet music director. He does a nice job of directing the ensemble gentlemen in the various songs such as, “Lida Rose,” and, “Goodnight Ladies.” The production is everything that a person would expect from a production of The Music Man, and fans will not be disappointed, from the beginning train scene to the excited face of cute Winthrop, played by Kyler Johnson, when he gets his cornet. I confess that The Music Man has never been and will probably never be a favorite musical of this critic, but as a performance, the production that Terrace Plaza has put on is definitely one worth seeing.