"Music Man" offers nostalgic, family fun

Despite cool temperatures and overcast skies, the Baldwin City Theatre's production of Meredith Willson's "The Music Man" managed to hold off Mother Nature on Saturday night � while also turning in an effort that delighted the crowd.

Though it sprinkled briefly during the second act, the performers went on with the show, while the audience (which was sitting in lawn chairs and on blankets) held programs over their heads during the slight rain shower.

And it was certainly worth it. Sitting outdoors just added to the whole rural setting, enhancing the musical's nostalgic look at 1912 Iowa. The play follows con man Harold Hill (Mike Boring) as he pitches his scheme of selling musical instruments and band uniforms to a town that has no use for them. Problems arise for Harold when he falls for Marian (Beth Rea), the local librarian, and he is unable to follow through with the swindle.

Boring is excellent as Harold, and easily carries off his numbers with aplomb, while Rea adds her wonderfully rich voice to several numbers. Knute Pittenger and Mike Swann both bring comic relief and stage presence to their supporting roles. Todd Hayworth shines alongside Boring in the comic duet "The Sadder-But-Wiser-Girl," while several actresses playing townswomen stand out on the "Pickalittle" number.

Of course, "Seventy-Six Trombones" is still a real treat, but the show's highlight is "Marian the Librarian." Boring and Rea receive strong support from several talented teenage actresses (and one actor), during the well-staged number.

Credit should also go to Director Dan O'Connell, for his clever stage directions, and to costume creator Linda Ballinger, for her beautifully tailored outfits.

It's about a 15-minute scenic drive to Baldwin, and this production is definitely worth the trip. The show will continue at 8 p.m. every evening through Saturday.

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