Landmark Community Theatre, Inc. chose as the show to officially reopen the Thomaston Opera House. This "chestnut of musical theatre" was a fitting choice. Chuck Stango, President of the Landmark Board of Trustees, calls the beautiful TOH a "house that strikes the perfect balance between capacity and intimacy." I certainly felt it in the audience during the matinee performance that I attended. The lovely Victorian design with its amazing mezzanine looks as good as ever. The vintage organ was being played as we climbed up the stairs; the Broadway tunes and other standards sounded amazing.
During the introduction the gentleman mentioned that they had no reviewer come to see the show during opening weekend due to illness. He therefore asked everyone in the audience to tell a friend how much we enjoyed the show and encourage them to come. I am hoping that a theatre critic wannabe will do.
This old musical has stood the test of time and this wonderful cast made it even better. The period costumes (by Barbara Piscopo) and perfect scenery combined on the medium-sized stage to transport us back to a simpler time. The wonderful music conducted by the multi-talented Meric Martin was so easy to enjoy and continues to run through my head. From the second row we were able to appreciate the talent of the six piece orchestra which included an upright bass.
Director Rob Bongiolatti is honored to be part of the Landmark Community Theatre and this cast of family who have been working so hard to bring The Music Man and theatre back to Thomaston. He deserves a lot of praise for getting the show ready in approximately six weeks.
Chuck Stango in the demanding lead role of "Prof. Harold Hill" was so charming that he managed to stand out in a large cast full of stars. Although he claims to be "danced-challenged," he danced just fine. He was the perfect flim-flam artist who has a change of heart. The lovely Sybil Haggard Chamberlin, with her absolutely beautiful soprano voice, was perfect for the role of "Marian Paroo." As her Irish mother, Lucia Dressel was as wonderful as always. Young Connor Barth (a sixth grader at WAMS) maintained the requisite lisp in his role as "Winthrop Paroo" and melted out hearts when he came out of his shell. Veteran actor Jeff Savage was a funny "Mayor Shinn" with some speech issues of his own. As his wife, Roberta Coffill Healy was a riot. Both Shinn daughters (Jean-Marie McGrath and Bethany Russo) did a great job with their roles. Lauren Stango was a fine "Amaryllis," Marion's piano student and duet partner. Robert Bongiolatti embraced the role of bad-boy "Tommy." Jimmy Donohue (soon to be seen in Teddy and Alice at Seven Angels) was an excellent "Marcellus Washburn" and the perfect foil for Mr. Stango.
The press on the barbershop quartet was that this group was the best one ever and they did not disappoint. Steve Sorriero, Richard Damaso, Tyson Chamberlin (Mrs. Chamberlin's husband,) and Ryan Fitzpatrick made up the foursome that kept appearing throughout the show to the delight of the audience. The Pickalittle Ladies also worked well together to sound as one. My son the musician especially enjoyed the opening spoken "Rock Island" and the "Piano Lesson/If You Don't Mind."
As a group, the children in the ensemble were outstanding. A number of them came offstage to sing in front of the orchestra level pit at one point and those of us in the front got the chance to hear their wonderful voices up close. These kids are the stars of tomorrow and they worked so well with all the adult members of the 42 person cast . The choreographer Jennifer Bunger did an amazing job of helping everyone in the cast dance so well. The staging of the Marion the Librarian scene was especially fun to watch.
If you have never been to the Opera House, make it a point to see this show. It is an easy commute from Naugatuck and the parking is free. The only way to insure that this venerable theatre remains open is to support it by attending such fine productions as this one.
Mr. Donohue said it best:
If you have ever tread the Thomaston Opera House floors whether on or offstage... As an actor, stage crew member, usher, audience member, subscriber, OR have ever wanted to be apart of the magic of theatre! Then, please, make every attempt to make it to Meredith Willson's MUSIC MAN presented by Landmark Community Theatre. Let's show the town of Thomaston, that the opera house deserves to be open, not only for the community but for people who get the chance to do something they love to do! We are hoping and striving to fill the opera house to the brim for our 3 weekend run! See you there~!