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The Music Man on the 1971 Tonys
PLEASE BROADWAY FANS, MAY I HAVE YOUR ATTENTION PLEASE?!! We are getting close each day to The 74th Annual Tony Awards. Yup, Broadway’s biggest night is just 29 DAYS AWAY. What an unforgettable exciting time it is to be celebrating the magic of Live Theater making a comeback. With all this in mind, we at New York Broadway Tours continue to get us in the mood with our TOP 50 TONY AWARDS COUNTDOWN. We have many more legendary performances coming up from previous telecasts.
At # 29 on our countdown, we take you to a small town in Iowa in the year of 1912 where a traveling salesman turns out to be…..a con artist. The man convinces the naïve residents in starting their own marching band. After all of the money is collected for Musical Instruments, Uniforms, Books, and Lessons, the con salesman would then skip town before the town realizes they have been tricked. However, his world turns upside down when he meets and falls for the town’s Librarian. We are talking about “Professor Harold Hill”….. Better known as The Music Man. The show features an original score and book by Meredith Wilson and Franklin Lacey.
From the 1971 telecast (featuring many of Broadway’s biggest names reprising their legendary performances for one night only), Robert Preston in his signature performance as the titular role of “Harold Hill” and the cast perform one of the show’s most notable songs. We are talking about the legendary OG rap number on the Great Bright Way…..YA GOT TROUBLE.
The Music Man was inspired by Meredith Wilson’s 1948 memoir entitled AND THERE I STOOD THERE WITH MY PICCOLO talking about his early life in Iowa and playing in a John Phillip Sousa band. The book did so well, he originally conceived his story as a Musical Television special. However, it did not work out. Wilson later teamed up with Franklin Lacey to edit the book of the show.
In the original script, the character of ” Harold Hill” had literally an 8 minute monologue which slowed down the show. They read through it and Wilson started seeing it more as a lyric. The long monologue was then changed into an entire musical named as an early version of rap. That song happened to be YA GOT TROUBLE. The inspiration for the leading lady role of “Marian The Librarian” was a woman that Wilson met during World War II named Marian Seely who was a medical librarian in Utah.
After many years of rewrites, the show had its World Premiere in 1957 at Broadway’s Majestic Theatre for 1,375 performances. Under the direction of Morton DaCosta and choreographed by Onna White, the cast starred….
Tony winner Robert Preston (later Eddie Albert and Bert Parks) as “Professor Harold Hill”
and
the late Barbara Cook as “Marian”.
The original production was nominated for 9 Tony Awards that same year winning 5 including BEST MUSICAL, BEST LEADING ACTOR IN A MUSICAL (for Hannah Lee), and BEST LEADING ACTRESS IN A MUSICAL (for Barbara Cook).
The show went on to become a worldwide hit. It was later revived 3 times in New York City.
In 1965, New York City Center presented a limited run of 16 performances. The creative team featured direction by Gus Schirmer Jr. and choreography by Vernon Lusby. The cast featured…
Bert Parks as “Professor Harold Hill”,
and
Gaylea Byrne as “Marian”.
The show was then brought back to New York City Center in 1980 for another short stint of 29 performances. This time, the creative team under the direction and choreography by Michael Kidd featured a cast led by ….
the iconic Dick Van Dyke as “Professor Harold Hill”
and
Meg Bussert as “Marian”.
Both New York City Center engagements did not receive any Tony Award nominations or wins.
The most recent Broadway revival of THE MUSIC MAN on Broadway happened in 2000 at the Neil Simon Theatre running for a total of 721 performances. This production was directed and choreographed by Tony winner Susan Stroman. The cast starred…
Tony nominee Craig Berko Pa (later Robert Sean Leonard and Eric McCormack) as “Professor Harold Hill”,
and
Tony nominee Rebecca Luker as “Marian”.
The revival was nominated for 8 Tony Awards that year including BEST REVIVAL OF A MUSICAL but lost all the categories.
Most recently, it was announced that THE MUSIC MAN will officially be marching its way back to Broadway. Originally, it was slated to begin in 2020 but was delayed several times due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. As of now the production is set to finally begin this holiday season. Previews will begin December 20th, 2021 and Opening Night set for February 10th, 2022 at Broadway’s Winter Garden Theatre. Under the direction of Tony winner Jerry Zaks and choreography by Tony winner Warren Carlyle, it will feature an all-star cast led by…
Award winning stage and screen favorite Hugh Jackman as “Professor Harold Hill”
and
Tony winner Sutton Foster as “Marian”.
In addition to THE MUSIC MAN being a successful stage musical. It also became a huge hit on the screen as well.
The original film adaptation was released in 1962 from Warner Bros. Pictures. Featuring its original creative team under the direction of Morton DaCosta and choreography by Onna White, the cast featured…
Robert Preston reprising his Tony winning performance as “Professor Harold Hill”
and
Shirley Jones as “Marian”.
The original film was nominated for 6 Oscars that year winning only 1 for BEST SCORE.
In 2003, THE MUSIC MAN was captured on film again. This time it was made as a TV Movie for Disney/ABC. Under the direction of Jeff Bleckner and choreography by Tony winner Kathleen Marshall., the cast starred…
Tony winner Matthew Broderick as “Professor Harold Hill”
and
Tony and Emmy winner Kristin Chenoweth as Marian”.
The TV movie remake was also nominated for 5 technical Emmy Awards.
THE MUSIC MAN today is a popular show still performed in schools, community, and regional theatres worldwide.
Doesn’t this show make you want to march and walk out singing the songs?
Mike Haber
Author: Mike Haber

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