Review: The Music Man (Theatre Under the Stars) [guest post by @loisrp]

I had the good fortune to see both Theatre Under the Stars productions, The Music Man and Titanic, that are currently playing in Stanley Park, as a guest reviewer in exclusive for

Perhaps you haven’t seen the movie or Broadway musical before, but you are likely familiar with many songs and motifs from The Music Man. The catchy tune “76 Trombones”, the rhyme “Marian the Librarian” – I never knew both of these were from The Music Man.

TUTS Music Man

Photo by Tim Matheson

The rustic, naive charm of the Midwest is captured well in this depiction of River City, Iowa (based on the author’s home town of Mason City, Iowa). To modern viewers, the story is likely a bit thin. A swindler, who holds himself out as a professor of music, wheedles parents to buy band instruments and uniforms on the promise of a band being formed and led by himself. Self-proclaimed Professor Harold Hill is a consummate conman, who artfully evades every demand to verify his credentials. Love, in the form of the town librarian Marian Paroo, gets in the way of his con.

The theme of a trickster who somehow brings enlightenment and personal growth to his victims is a frequent theme in theatre – think of The Rainmaker (with Katharine Hepburn) and Shirley Valentine. Hill brings out the latent talents of the townspeople, and leads them to forge new bonds amongst themselves. They benefit from his presence, despite his efforts to rip them off. The town has been stuck in a rut. The delight of excitement and newness comes through in songs like “Wells Fargo Wagon”. Anything might be arriving on that wagon, including new, shiny band instruments.

Interestingly, both The Music Man and Titanic are set in 1912, on the eve of World War I. The theme of trampled class differences pervades both productions. The mayor’s authority is disrespected, a couple from different sides of the tracks gets together, and Professor Hill navigates across all the town’s social classes to make connections.

Theatre Under the Stars does not skimp on the delightful costumes and period details. The actors are skilled singers and dancers as required, and they interact well together. Having a live orchestra under the stage is always a treat.

If you crave a bit of well-done, old-timey nostalgia, you will enjoy The Music Man. It is playing alternate nights until August 18. See the Theatre Under the Stars information page.

Disclaimer Lois Patterson reviewed both Theatre Under The Stars plays in exclusive for There was no expectation of a review, nor in the case of a review being written, was there any expectation that it would be positive. Raul always has editorial control on the blog’s content. Read more about Lois below.

About Lois Patterson: Lois Patterson enjoys travel, theatre, arts, and literature. She favours integration of science and humanities, and has a special weakness for mathematical interpretations of artistic phenomena. Her work in technical writing, software testing, and UI design is informed by this philosophy. She writes a blog and can be followed on Twitter at @loisrp

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  3. Anything Goes at Theatre Under the Stars (TUTS) (Review and a Giveaway)
  4. Bye Bye Birdie (Theatre Under The Stars, TUTS) [theatre review]
  5. Theatre Under the Stars at Malkin Bowl

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