Seasoned theatergoers counted down the last few seconds to lights out during Tuesday night’s show at the International Conference Center where family, friends and fans of The Music Man occupied more than half the room. The musical, deemed a “masterpiece” in theatre, is a romantic comedy with book, music and lyrics by Meredith Willson.
This year’s Youth Bridge Global/Public School System/Marshall Islands High School production brought back Dartmouth Professor Emeritus Andrew Garrod and Dartmouth juniors Summer Cody and Tyler Malbareaux as music director and assistant producer, respectively. The local team includes long-time producer Bonny Taggart and assistant director Tommy Kabua.
The play launches straight into a musical number that parallels the rhythm of a train, our first scene, and as the wheels warm up so does the group of fast-talking salesmen who are discussing the shenanigans of the infamous con man Harold Hill. Duke Gaston, who alternates the lead role with the versatile Jobod Silk, makes a strong and charming “Professor” Hill who thaws the icy walls of Carnie Reimers’ sweet but sharp librarian Marian Paroo.
Hill stirs up trouble in River City by conning the townspeople to sign their kids up for the new “band” and convinces them to put down a hefty amount for band instruments and uniforms. Marian, who is able to prove him a liar, has a change of heart upon seeing lisping little brother Winthrop, played by Christian Reimers, overcome his shyness and join the band.
The musical alternates between the fast-paced rhythm of Hill and Marian’s gentler tones. It is spiced up with the interlacing harmonies of Frank Chase Domnick, Ronald Jorthan, Ryan Jekkar, and Tony Kabua.
Others who carried out their roles very convincingly include Aliciya Ackley as the motherly Mrs. Paroo, Grace Zedkaia as the endearing Amaryllis, and Yolanie Jurelang whose deft movements and comical expressions filled the room with boisterous laughter.
Despite microphone issues and twisted tongues the ensemble gave a wonderfully mature and spirited performance sprinkled with a bit of improvising that knocked the zorries off the house, and that was made all the familiar with the mix of modern Marshallese slang and original music. By the time the band closed with a resounding performance it was evident that the audience was as caught in a con-turned-wrong as Hill who finds new life and love in a quaint little town.
Read more about this in the March 15, 2018 edition of the Marshall Islands Journal.