Nancy Sasso Janis
- OnStage Connecticut Critic
“Good night ladies, good night ladies…”
Watertown, CT - Whimsicality: A Theatre for Young Actors presents their annual summer camp musical at Watertown High School. Director Devin Brown told the Republican-American that ‘The Music Man’ will be the final such production for “Whimsy.” I was pleased to catch almost all of the first act on opening night on Thursday before I had to leave for Mom Taxi duty.
‘The Music Man’ is a musical with book, music, and lyrics by Meredith Willson, based on a story by Willson and Franklin Lacey. The plot concerns con man Harold Hill, who poses as a boys marching band organizer/leader and sells band instruments and uniforms to the naive Iowa townsfolk, with a promise to train the members of the new band. In reality Harold is not a musician and plans to skip town without giving any music lessons. Prim librarian and part-time piano teacher Marian Paroo sees through him early on, but when Harold helps her younger brother overcome his lisp and social awkwardness, Marian begins to fall in love in spite of herself.
“Rock Island” was a strong opening number and “Sincere” was just a duet, but the “Pickalittle” ladies sounded great. "Marian The Librarian" was made better by fine choreography and movements involving library books, all of which were “left to her.”
What I saw of the production was quite impressive. Lisa Hamel worked her usual magic as choreographer and the young performers carried it off perfectly. The many hours of rehearsal showed in every step and Ms. Brown made lots of smart directorial choices. The large set was executed well and the lighting well done, although the sound was hit or miss for much of the first act. Thankfully, the musical track functioned well. The actors carried on regardless and for the most part, the audience could hear their lines.The costumes evoked the time period well.
Aidan Boisvert played young Winthrop and Rosemarie Mitchell was young Amaryllis. Marissa Ingerson played the mayor’s wife Mrs. Shinn and Jacob Rogotzke stepped out of the role of Shrek (that he nailed last weekend) and turned into Mayor Shinn. Both members of the town’s first family did well.
Danny Nelson played the title character’s old friend Marcellus Washurn with a twinkle in his eye. Victoria Baloni played a friend of the mayor’s wife, Ethel Toffelmier. Nate Davino played anvil salesman Charlie Cowell.
The rest of the cast included Emily Dowling, Lindsey Dowling, Hannah Jack, Isha Patel and Agon Ismaili, Justin Canada, Kasey Ingerson, Sarah Woermer, Alexa Philippi, Cailin McGuire, Courtney Candee-Zubik, and Laura Sali. Unfortunately the printed programs were not available for opening night, so I cannot name the young actress who played the Widow Paroo; she did a great job with both her singing and her accent.
The lead role of Howard Hill was brought to life by the talented Christopher Varanko. This young man is a natural in all of the roles that I have seen him play; he can sing, dance and act equally well. The soprano voice of Mary Ryan was such a pleasure to listen to as she sang the songs of Marion the librarian.
The swan song of Whimsy was a good one. Best wishes to Ms. Brown and Ms. Hamel in wherever life takes them. Whimsicality's production of 'The Music Man' is at Watertown High School at 7 p.m. through Saturday.
Photos by Whimsicality