Apr 21, 2009

Music Man marches to Liberty's Stage

by Emily Defosse

A vintage postcard. That is the look Director Linda Nell Cooper desired for the Theatre Department’s production of Meredith Wilson’s “The Music Man,” and the description could not illustrate the production more accurately.

The play is about Harold Hill, played by junior Josh DeVries. Hill is a salesman who sells band instruments and uniforms and promises to create a boy’s marching band in every town he visits. However, he does not know a sharp note from a flat note, and leaves each town with the money he collected from the unsuspecting citizens.

“He is a con man,” DeVries said. “But he is very much a dreamer who loves to bring music everywhere he goes.”
Cooper loves Hill’s character.

“He is the biggest salesman, yet the person he sells the most is himself,” Cooper said. “He buys his own merchandise and then realizes that there is goodness in people, and that goodness helps him find the goodness in himself.”

DeVries found Hill’s character a challenging yet rewarding character to play. He is on-stage for the majority of the first act, which tests his physical stamina. However, he is given the freedom to experiment with his portrayal of Hill’s character and go a little crazy.

Cooper said one of the reasons the department decided to perform the play was to give the actors experience working with children.

”It has been a long time since we’ve had children in our shows,” Cooper said. “So, we thought that would be a good learning experience for our college actors to learn to act with children, because when they go out to the professional field they will have to do that a lot.”

Senior Holli Frazier is the children’s wardrobe manager and works directly with the children backstage.

“One thing that has really impressed me with the kids is how well they keep up with everything,” Frazier said. “They are on top of their lines, and when it comes to the choreography they are doing just as well as the college students.”

According to Cooper, another reason this play was chosen is that it beat “West Side Story” for the Tony Award for Best Musical in 1958.

“We did ‘West Side Story’ last year… so the students need to see what it lost to because it was such a popular show for both our student actors, as well as our audience,” Cooper said.

Like many stories, this play means different things to different people.

Cooper sees “The Music Man” as a story about forgiveness — learning to forgive both oneself and others.

DeVries views it as a lighthearted story about finding joy.

“It is a story about people who are not very imaginative. They are traditional and set in their ways,” he said. “Then there is this man who comes and shows them so much about life and living and joy that they never realized. They all have the potential to make music.”

The play features many well-known show tunes such as “76 Trombones,” “Goodnight My Someone” and “Till There Was You.”

The play just finished the first weekend of its three-weekend run. For upcoming showtimes and ticket information, visit the box office in the Performing Arts hall or call (434) 582-2085.

Contact Emily DeFosse at


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