PLEASE BROADWAY FANS! MAY I HAVE YOUR ATTENTION PLEASE?!! We are only 20 days away from Broadway’s biggest night of the year, the 71st Annual Tony Awards playing you the best spectacular performances from the past telecasts with Broadway’s biggest night only 24 days away.
At # 20 today on our countdown, we take a trip to River City, Iowa where a superstitious salesman is playing a game of hit and run trying to organize an all boys marching band leader and selling instruments until he meets the woman that turns his world upside down. That superstitious man I am talking about Harold Hill, better known as THE MUSIC MAN, written by the incredible Meredith Wilson and Franklin Lacey,
From the 1971 telecast (where some of the most famous Broadway stars at the time came back to recreate their iconic performances), the late Tony winning original star Robert Preston as “Professor Harold Hill” begins the start of his scheme for the starting the band and getting the money for it by making up a story that the na?ve parents of River City believe saying their kids will get bad luck and face serious problems with the town opening a “Pool Hall” in the showstopping (considered as the early years of rap) number YA GOT TROUBLE.
THE MUSIC MAN was actually based on 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 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 “Professor 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 considered as an early version of rap. That song happened to be YA GOT TROUBLE. The inspiration of the leading lady role of “Marian The Librarian” was a woman named that Wilson met during World War II named Marian Seely who as a medical librarian in Utah.
After many years of rewrites, the show had it’s World Premiere in 1957 at Broadway’s Majestic Theatre for 1,375 performances. The cast starred Tony winners Robert Preston (later Eddie Albert and Bert Parks) as “Professor Harold Hill” and the legendary Tony winner Barbara Cook Official as “Marian The Librarian” running for a total of 1,375 performances. It was nominated for 9 Tony Awards that same year winning 5 including Best Musical.
THE MUSIC MAN was later revived 3 times in New York City. In 1965 at New York City Center for a limited 2 week stint starring Bert Parks as “Professor Harold Hill”, It was then brought back to New York City Center in 1980 for another short stint. This time, Dick Van Dyke starred as “Professor Harold Hill”.
The most recent Broadway revival happened in 2000 at Broadway’s Neil Simon Theatre starring Tony nominees Craig Berko (later Robert Sean Leonard and Eric McCormack) as “Professor Harold Hill” and Rebecca Luker as “Marian The Librarian” running for a total of 721 performances. The revival was nominated for 8 Tony Awards that year including Best Revival of a Musical but lost all the catagories.
THE MUSIC MAN was also a huge smash hit on film. The original film adaptation premiered in 1962 starring Robert Preston reprising his Tony winning performance as “Professor Harold Hill” and Shirley Jones as “Marian The Librarian”. It was nominated for 6 Academy Awards that year winning one for Best Score.
The most recent time THE MUSIC MAN was captured on film was in the 2003 TV Movie for Disney and ABC Television Network starring Tony winners and Broadway favorites Matthew Broderick as “Professor Harold Hill” and Kristin Chenoweth as “Marian The Librarian”. This version came off the success of the 2000 revival. It was also nominated for a 5 technical Emmy Awards.
Doesn’t this show make you want to get up and join the parade?!
Robert Preston in this performance from the 1971 Tony Awards.
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