The Wells Fargo wagon is coming and it is bringing instruments to the kids in the town of River City, Iowa. The trombones, trumpets, clarinets and piccolos are part of conman Harold Hill’s plot to fleece the good people of 1912 Iowa and leave, but he falls in love with the town’s librarian Marian Paroo.
There in a nutshell is the plot of The Music Man, Meredith Willson’s classic musical about the values, desires and dreams of small town America in the early 20th century.
Keizer Homegrown Theatre is producing the show in the Ken Collins Theatre, at McNary High School, as part of its 10th anniversary season.
The cast of almost 70 includes dancers from Zoe Banton’s City Dance Theatre, McNary High School students and community members, including Mayor Cathy Clark.
Tom Cavanaugh, drama teacher at McNary High School, is cast as Professor Harold Hill. Keizer resident Bethany Staats plays his love interest Marian Paroo.
Linda Baker, a founder and president of Keizer Homegrown Theatre as well as a former McNary drama teacher, is directing the show.
“Tom Cavanaugh, Zoe Banton and I have been playing around with this idea for at least three years. I really love directing big spectacle musicals.
Harold Hill is one of Tom Cavanaugh’s ‘bucket list’ roles, and Zoe has made choreography skills she want to use. This was the year we could make it happen,” said Baker.
Cavanaugh agreed. “This is the role (Harold Hill) I have always wanted to play. The Music Man has always been one of my favorite musicals and Harold is such a fun character that I thought I could do well,” he said.
For Cavanaugh, the show is a family affair as his son, Henry, is co-cast as Winthrop, the stuttering brother of Marian. Henry shares the role with Jack Bentley. They will perform in three shows each.
The best thing for Cavanaugh about performing in the show is being in a play with his son and performing with some of his current and former students.
Bethany Staats brings her formal training in opera and a classical vocal soloist to her role as Marian Paroo.
“I am always open to new opportunities to sign and perform,” said Staats, “so I just decided to audition and see what happens.” Marian is her first leading role in a musical and she identifies with the character. “I do feel a kinship with Marian,” she said. “As an introvert, I often feel like I’m on the outside looking in.Marian overcomes misconceptions of her as the townspeople of River City come to accept her.”
Romance is a big part of “The Music Man.” Lucy Gatchet plays Zaneeta Shinn, the mayor’s daughter, who is wooed by town ne’er-do-well, Tommy Djilas, played by McNary student and actor Gage DuBois. The role is a change of pace of DuBois, who is used to playing ‘super enthusiastic and giddy’ characters. A former role was Buddy in McNary’s production of Elf: The Musical.
“Comparing Tommy Djilas to Buddy the elf is like comparing night and day,” said DuBois,”on the one hand Tommy, the town troublemaker and you have Buddy, who is happy all the time.”
Gatchet, who has been dancing for 13 years, appears in many dance scenes in the show.
“I wanted Zaneeta to be sweet, but I still wanted to have some teenage sass when I played her,” said Gatchet of her character. “I didn’t see any versions of “The Music Man” before I was cast. I wanted the opportunity to play the role as I saw her versus how I saw someone else play her.”
Actors will sing to to a taped soundtrack but the dancing is all them.
Choreographer Zoe Banton is up for the challenge of instructing non-dancers.
Anyone can dance, she said. “I have not met anyone yet in 27 years that I have not been able to teach to dance. She added that the music and story of every show she choreographs guides her through the process.
“I love working with big casts,” said Banton, “I have a vision of what I want it look like and all these wonderful people make it come alive.” Her biggest challenge is keeping everyone quiet and focused while she choreographs the large cast.
To recreate 1912 small town Iowa, costumes were overseen by Jeri Gamaney with the help of some of the cast members. Most of the costumes were loaned by Pentacle Theatre, Gallery Theatre of McMinnville, Dallas High School’s Theater Arts Department and McNary High School. The set design was a collaboration between technical director Aaron Palmquist and Tony Zandol.
Six non-profit organizations have been chosen to partake in the revenues of the show. “Keizer has been amazingly supportive of Keizer Homegrown Theatre,” said Linda Baker. “The last couple of years have been hard on the community; we want to show our appreciation and give something back.”
Each non-profit will be highlighted at one of the six performances.
• Boys and Girls Club of Keizer
• CASA of Marion County
• Joys of Living Assistance Dogs
• Keizer Klosets (Keizer Community Foundation)
• McNary High SchoolTheater Department
• Soaring Heights Recovery Homes
There will be six performances of “The Music Man,” opening 7 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 2. Other 7 p.m. shows are on Saturday, Sept. 3 and Friday, Sept. 10. Matinees at 2 p.m. will be on Saturday, Sept. 10 and Sundays, Sept. 4 and Sept. 11.
To purchase tickets visit keizerhomegrowntheatre.org.
Harold Hill Tom Cavanaugh
Marian Paroo Bethany Statts
Mrs. Paroo Kirsten Manning
Winthrop Paroo Jack Blakey
Mayor Shinn Robert Condron
Eulalie Shinn Geri Lynn Greeno
Zaneeta Shinn Lucy Garchet
Marcellus Washburn Caleb Thurston
Ethel Toffelmier Heidi Thurston
Charlie Cowell Mike Jaffee
Tommy Gage DuBois
Gracie Shinn Claire Phelps & Marcy Blakley
Amaryllis Eliza Tooley
Constable Locke Rex Gamaney
Conductor Rex Gamaney
The River City School Board
Oliver Hix Mike Merril
Jacey Squires Joshua Seitz
Olin Britt Jake Rice
Edward Dunlap Jacob Fritts
Allison Reid Winifred Wallace
Cathy Clark Pauline Squires
Jennifer Meyers, Maude Dunlap
Vicky Rafin Nellie Norton
Laura Reid Alma Hix
Traveling salesmen and citizens of River City
Molly Jo McLean
Molly Jo McLean