The Music Man

By Kim Seidel  

It’s always the right time for “The Music Man,” but as the opener for the La Crosse Community Theatre’s (LCT) 2017-18 season, it’s even more appealing. Set in Iowa in a small town on the Mississippi River, the musical holds a kindred-spirit atmosphere at Weber Center, located on the Midwestern portion of the river. 

Guest directors for LCT Stephanie Harter and Matt Campbell describe this big-hearted musical like a valentine, a beautiful gift for audiences.

It’s one of America’s greatest, and it’s classic Americana in a time of relative innocence (1912). The large cast of more than 30 characters offers such an array of ages and personalities that most people will find someone to relate to, from the zany mayor and his hilarious wife to the prim and proper librarian. 

“The Music Man,” which opens Friday, Sept. 8, and continues every Thursday through Sunday until Sept. 24, lets the audience sink into the nostalgia of American life and escape for two hours of enchanting song, dance and scenery. It also gives Harter, voice instructor, and Campbell, department chair and assistant professor of theatre and music theatre at Viterbo University, the perfect blend of classic theatre and modern twists. Theresa Smerud brings her unique vision to costume design and Dillon McArdle provides his technical expertise. 

“We’re very excited about all of the awesome talent to create the best ‘Music Man’ for La Crosse 2017,” Campbell says. 

The show follows the tactics of con man professor Harold Hill through several amazing robust musical numbers, including “Iowa Stubborn,” “Ya Got Trouble,” and “Seventy-Six Trombones,” and holds the audience captive as Hill disguises himself as a band organizer and leader, selling band instruments and uniforms to the “naïve” Iowa townsfolk. Though he promises to train new band members, he actually plans to skip town. 

Meanwhile, Marian, the librarian, sees Harold’s true ways, but begins to fall in love with him nonetheless. “Marian is so endearing,” Harter says. “She’s so independent and yet so vulnerable.” The love song, “Till There Was You,” became the musical’s most popular number, and audiences still relish it. The barbershop quartet sung by the show’s school board members holds a special place on Campbell’s playlist. Harter enjoys another quartet sung by four gossipy friends in “Pickalittle,” a comical but true-to-life rendition of small-town talk. 

While this musical will warm your heart as the weather begins to cool, LCT is also planning for the future as it welcomes Grant Golson, recently appointed as LCT’s new executive director.

Excited to fill the shoes of previous executive director David Kilpatrick, Golson will lead LCT into its next stage of life with his community-focused vision and more wonderful theatre for us to enjoy.  

For tickets or more information, call (608) 784-9292 or visit www.lacrossecommunitytheatre.org.