‘Music Man’ marches into Lake Forest
Mark Amdahl Taylor of Lake Forest (center) rehearses his role as Harold Hill in the CenterStage production of "The Music Man." | Michael Schmidt~Sun-Times Media
‘The Music Man’
CenterStage, Gorton Community Center, 400 E. Illinois Ave., Lake Forest
7:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 3 p.m. Sundays, July 27-
Tickets in advance are $20, $15 for students and seniors; $25 at the door
Visit www.CenterStageLakeForest.org or call (847) 234-6062
Updated: July 24, 2012 7:20PM
Trouble in River City equals fun in Lake Forest. After 19 years CenterStage is again presenting “The Music Man,” Meredith Willson’s beloved musical slice of life from 1912 midwestern America.
The production features
classic songs like “Til There
Was You” and “Seventy-Six
Trombones” performed by a cast of 60. The director is David Miller, who was a founding member of CenterStage in 1971, and whose alumni include Kathryn Joosten and Vince Vaughn. Miller saw the original Broadway production as an eighth-grader, but brings his own vision to the work. Though he’s aware that audiences are probably most familiar with the 1962 film, he feels that version lacks “the pace and drive” of the stage show.
Mark Amdahl Taylor of Lake Forest stars as Harold Hill, the con artist who convinces the town that their children can become a band of musicians. Taylor’s wife and son have featured roles, and the eight-year-old, he says, “has been a big help to me in learning my lines, as he reads other characters in each scene.”
More of Harold
While noting Robert Preston’s film performance, Taylor says “I also believe that Meredith Willson’s book and score are incredibly rich with possibility, so I try to see if there are ways to explore other sides of Harold’s character than what we see in the movie.”
Another Lake Forest resident, George Moloney, reprises his barbershop quartet role from the 1993 CenterStage production. “This is one of my favorite shows of all time. Besides the great music, it tells a wonderful story. I was happy to be involved back in 1993. We had a great time,” he says. “This year’s production is outstanding. I feel very fortunate to be part of a great cast. This year the quartet is made up of members of the Northbrook Chapter of the Barbershop Harmony Society.”
The CenterStage production of The Music Man is a marvelous opportunity to revisit an American classic, and to sample a slice of 1912 life, a century ago in midwestern America. Taylor has a special interest in the historic aspect of the play.
“I’m also deeply involved in the local brass band movement, whose history in America dates back to the Civil War,” he explains. “Town bands were very common in the era of the show’s setting, in some cases being one of the only sources of live music that people had. You can see why Harold would have chosen that ‘product’ and how his cons would have been so successful.”
Town bands, requiring discipline and commitment from their musicians, were more than a pleasant distraction, Taylor believes. And, even if for just a short time, a band opened a window onto the joys of performing arts. “I’m convinced that the bands of that time really did shape the lives of a lot of young people, and quite possibly their towns as well.”