Modest 'Music Man' only manages 56 trombones

Saturday, February 15, 2003

Let's face it: Matthew Broderick is no Mario Lanza. The genial actor, who appeared in Broadway's hit adaptation of "The Producers," stars in Sunday night's affectionate revival of Meredith Willson's 1957 Broadway musical "The Music Man" (6 p.m. Sunday, ABC).

For all of his winning boyish enthusiasm, Broderick lacks the kind of big voice or astounding vocal talent to carry a lavish musical. Lucky for Broderick, many of the best songs in "The Music Man" are half-spoken. Co-star Kristin Chenoweth is another story. Her voice possesses both the crystalline clarity and rafter-reaching oomph that one associates with Broadway productions.

The great score of "The Music Man" features such favorites as "Trouble," "76 Trombones," "Gary, Indiana" and "Till There Was You," the only song from the Broadway canon ever covered by the Beatles. With its modest dance numbers, this production will never erase the memory of the 1962 movie musical starring Robert Preston. But Broderick's "Music Man" offers that all-too rare television treat -- great family entertainment that will leave you humming long after the final credits roll.

Tonight's highlights