Thursday, 21 May 2015

"THE MUSIC MAN" Derby Theatre
by Derby Gilbert & Sullivan Company​

The Music Man is about a travelling salesman, "Professor" Harold Hill who arrives in the fictional location of River City, Iowa, intent on swindling the natives of Iowa into paying him to create a boys' marching band, including instruments, uniforms, and music instruction. Once he has collected the money and the instruments and uniforms have arrived, he will hop the next train out of town, leaving them without their money or a band. As usual there's a girl involved which makes him change his ways and produce the goods, but not before he is rumbled.

The "Professor" is played here by Chris Grantham who has some real tongue twisting, lyrically impressive songs to perform; just listen to "Trouble" for example, which he delivers without a hitch.

Hill's associate Marcellus Washburn, who is now living in River City and is the only one who knows Hill's real name, "Gregory," is a great role for Richard Hill​, who also has several vocal highlights, not least the wonderful "Shipopi" which turns into a full scale ensemble number, straight out of one of Hollywood's finest.

Marian Paroo, who is the gal to keep Harold in River City, after a great deal of wooing from Harold. Sharon Stringer, who plays Marian has a beautiful clear and powerful voice which reached the very back of the Derby Theatre.

There is something rather special about hearing a barbershop quartet,and this show has one. Some lovely harmonies from the foursome of Stephen Godward​. Andrew Dennis, Richard Miller and Ian Thompson.

Such a large supporting company, and I'd love to mention them all but two others who I feel deserve spotlighting are Hugo Carter who played Winthrop Paroo. What a great show of confidence and he has the making of a really strong singer in a few years' time. Joan Self, who played the mayor's wife, Eulalie Mackecknie Shinn, was an absolute joy to watch with her wonderful comic role.

There are some classy tunes in this musical, two of which you'll know in "Till There Was You" and "76 Trombones" which will have you clapping along at the end. Very colourful costumes make this show a bright affair, and while there was just a slight spotlight issue in one part, on the whole David Marsden did a cracking job with the lighting design.

There's some great choreography, especially in the large ensemble numbers and a job well done by choreographer, Jackie O Brien. Some one else who had a task and a half was director Andrew Nicklin but again, you can see the hard work that has obviously been put in by Andrew, and it paid off.

A crisp and tight orchestra, which complemented the singing on stage and created a full and rounded sound. I only had one little picky thing with the show and that was  when the scenes were being changed behind the curtain there was a bit of noise and you could hear voices behind the actors. Didn't spoil anything but I thought that maybe the background noise could have been monitored more.

On the whole though I was really impressed with the first show that I'd attended from The Derby Gilbert & Sullivan Company, and I can see why their name is known, and respected worldwide for their grand shows.

It was a shame to see another half full theatre, and what a gorgeous theatre it is, so to make sure that those seats are filled, go and see this show which has such a wide age range on the stage, there's something for any age.

"The Music Man" is on at Derby Theatre until Saturday 23 May 2015

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