“… that game with the fifteen numbered balls is the devil’s tool..”
One might wonder what kind of playhouse could a rinky-dink town like Titusville muster up. Well, Titusville isn’t so rinky-dink. True, the end of the Space Shuttle Program put the city through some tough economic times. But now the Kennedy Space Center is bustling again with the construction of the first commercial spaceport and Titusville is on the way back up. The Titusville Playhouse is a worthy part of that growth.
If you’re old (really old like me), while you’re recalling the original space program — Mercury and Gemini — you might recall the original Music Man. The stage play in 1957 starring Robert Preston and Barbara Cook was followed in 1962 by the movie starring Robert Preston and Shirley Jones. I think I remember that as the first time the lead actor from the stage production was also the lead in the film. Much later, in 2003, Music Man was presented as a TV Special with Matthew Broderick and Kristin Chenoweth heading the cast.
Here is a recap from Wikipedia:
”The Music Man is a musical with book, music, and lyrics by Meredith Willson, based on a story by Willson and Franklin Lacey. The plot concerns con man Harold Hill, who poses as a boys' band organizer and leader and sells band instruments and uniforms to naive Iowa townsfolk, promising to train the members of the new band. Harold is no musician, however, and plans to skip town without giving any music lessons. Prim librarian and piano teacher Marian sees through him, but when Harold helps her younger brother overcome his lisp and social awkwardness, Marian begins to fall in love. Harold risks being caught to win her.
In 1957, the show became a hit on Broadway, winning five Tony Awards, including Best Musical, and running for 1,375 performances. The cast album won the first Grammy Award for Best Musical Theater Album and spent 245 weeks on the Billboard charts. The show's success led to revivals, including a long-running 2000 Broadway revival, a popular 1962 film adaptation, and a 2003 television adaptation. It is frequently produced by both professional and amateur theater companies.”
I had this album and I wore it out. I sang those songs until I memorized every word. Then I sang them some more while my kids were growing up. We had great fun with those lyrics which I still think are an incredibly masterful use of the English language. Sitting through today’s performance, I surprised myself by still remembering almost every word.
I was a fan of the theater back then – especially musicals. Names like Rogers & Hammerstein and Lerner & Lowe were household names. Everyone knew them. But Meredith Wilson stood alone. For The Music Man, he wrote the book and the music and the lyrics.
Robert Meredith Willson (May 18, 1902 – June 15, 1984) was an American composer and playwright, best known for The Music Man. He wrote three other Broadway musicals, composed symphonies and popular songs, and his film scores were twice nominated for Academy Awards.
Wilson was a native of the Hawkeye State. He played with John Philip Sousa's band and with the New York Philharmonic before he went to Hollywood to work in radio.
Wilson wrote some great popular tunes. "It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas", which will make it’s seasonal appearance soon, was written by him. He also wrote the musical “The Unsinkable Molly Brown”. We learned more about the real Molly Brown during our stop this summer in Hannibal, MO. Unsinkable comes from the fact that she was a Titanic survivor. But his story of the con-man-turned-good-guy by an Iowa librarian was the classic that hooked me.
Here is the complete story on Meredith Wilson“No photography during the performance” means I have no pictures from this show. So I grabbed a few from the public domain to include here.
I think I’ll use Amazon dot com to buy a copy of the film for my grandkids. Maybe I can infect them with its magic when I see them this Christmas.
I’m pleased to report that as my memory fails, while I may forget some trivial things like my name, I have not forgotten the lyrics to The Music Man.
trouble ... trouble ... trouble ... trouble ... trouble ... trouble ... trouble ... trouble ... trouble ... trouble ... trouble ... trouble