Katie Frost and Emily Chen
On March 3-6, Radnor High School put on its annual winter musical, Meredith Wilson’s The Music Man, which as usual, did not disappoint. Over 100 students in the cast and crew worked together for several months to bring this story to life.
Starting in January, three months after auditions were held, chorus members met every Sunday, learning and rehearsing numbers such as “Iowa Stubborn,” “Ya Got Trouble,” “Wells Fargo Wagon,” “Shipoopi,” and “Seventy Six Trombones.” In addition to these Sunday rehearsals, the featured dancers, after being personally selected by choreographer Lauren Cunkelman, attended additional rehearsals. The leads dedicated even more time to this show, produced by Radnor High School chorus teacher Dr. Glenny. As the performance date neared, the cast and crew became more and more aware of the pressure to pull off a striking show. As Dr. Glenny reviewed the articulation of the songs, Lauren made sure that the choreography remained uniform throughout, and Cal Brackin overviewed the entire performance as director. One week before the performing weekend, the entire cast met after school for long hours of dress rehearsals, complete with all the sounds and special effects, thanks to technical director Jon Johanson. As the performers were getting their makeup and hair done, a few mothers of the cast put some finishing touches on the set that they had worked so hard on for the preceding weeks. It was evident that the performance would not have been so successful without the help of these mothers, Dr. Glenny, Lauren, Cal, Jon, and stage managers Emmy Steele and Elena Burton.
The plot of the musical revolves around a con man named Harold Hill (Dylan Freeman/Brendan DeSanto) and his impact on River City, Iowa in the year 1912. After proclaiming to the citizens that their children are at risk of unsophisticated influences, Harold is able to easily convince River City parents to pitch in their money to purchase band uniforms and instruments for a “boys band.” He claims that he will be able to train River City’s group of children into musicians, when his real intention is actually just to drain the civilians’ pockets and flee the town. It is a little difficult to sway librarian and local piano teacher Marian Paroo (Sarah Sobel/Quinn Flannery) into the fraud however, even with Harold’s flirtatious behavior and manipulative salesman tactics. Marian is not touched by the least with Harold’s declaration of his “love” for her, as she sees that it is just his way to enroll her brother, Winthrop (Liam Keenan/Michael McNicholas) in the boys band.
Yet Harold Hill begins to transform the town, adding an upbeat excitement that was previously lacked. He teaches the notoriously bickering school board to sing in harmony, which completely halts their frequent quarrelling, and the pick-a-little ladies are quick to accelerate the excitement in the town, led by the animated Mrs. Eulalie Mackecknie Shinn (Clare Donaher/Alexa DiGiovanni). Marcellus (Austin Taylor/James DiCocco), a longtime friend of Harold Hill, notices and is excited for his town, but also concerned about the promises Harold makes. When the band instruments arrive into town and upon seeing Winthrop’s excitement about his cornet, Marian begins to see Harold in a new light.
In the end, Harold and Marian fall in love and Harold decides to stay in River City rather than run away with the money he made. Much to everyone, especially Mayor Shinn’s (Nicholas Holtman) disbelief, the kids do form a band that melts the hearts of all the River City citizens.
The cast performed five shows over the course of the weekend, selling hundreds of tickets to students, teachers, eager-eyed kids, families in the community, and adults who have come to see Radnor’s highly regarded winter musical for years. Even with a show going on onstage, it was clear that there was a familiar Radnor camaraderie in the audience. The production received insightful reviews from friends, family, and classmates of the cast.
“I thought that it was a glorious production! This slice of classic Americana was absolutely intriguing–the costumes were beautiful, the singing was splendid, and the actors were just so talented. Alexa DiGiovanni especially, stood out with her amusing facial expressions! The most important thing I learned as I greeted my friends after the performance is that Radnor theatre never fails to put on a good show!,” says Radnor High School student Vivianna Giangrasso.
By assimilating themselves into the theatrical atmosphere, the entire cast, chorus and leads, formed an unbreakable bond with each other that can only be strengthened by next year’s musical performance.