ARLINGTON — While musicals are old hat for the Arlington High School Drama Department, the iconic musical “The Music Man” has yet to make its debut on the AHS stage, until now.
AHS Drama teacher and director Scott Moberly pointed out that “The Music Man” has been described as composer Meredith Willson’s Valentine to his own turn-of-the-century hometown.
“Willson actually printed a request, in the contract for the script, not to make the people of River City caricatures, but earnest folks who get caught up in Harold Hill’s elaborate hoax,” Moberly said. “I, too, wanted this show to pay homage to our small town of Arlington, with all of its uniqueness, especially the enthusiasm for its youth. This community is better than many at supporting its children.”
Moberly was also drawn to this play by its catchy tunes, which he acknowledged could qualify as “ear worms” for how firmly they can get stuck in your head, as well as its love story.
“Harold Hill may seem to be a bit of a cad, but he also gets a shy kid to sing, a lost woman to love, and a whole set of parents to believe in their kids,” Moberly said. “It’s an interesting parallel to our own town. We may not be as susceptible as the folks of River City to traveling salesmen, but we love our kids, and whenever they’re playing music, we’re there.”
Although AHS sophomore Jack Rogers is, like many of his fellow cast members, an old hand at school play productions, he admitted that playing Harold Hill posed a new challenge for him.
“He’s a big character, larger than life,” Rogers said. “I’ve never really played a slime ball or an antihero before. It’s been a rewarding experience, because it’s broadened my view of the kinds of characters I can do.”
For AHS senior Coleman Holt, another Drama Department veteran, the historical era of “The Music Man” proved to be a bit disorienting, but like Moberly, he connected to the material by seeing the parallels to his own hometown.
“It’s set in an era that’s completely unknown to us,” said Holt, who plays Mayor Shinn. “With ‘The Diary of Anne Frank,’ we’d already learned so much about World War II, but 1912 America is something else. Still, I can relate River City to a small town like Arlington, where everyone kind of knows everyone else.”
Fellow AHS senior Grayson Baden, who plays Ethel Toffelmier, found that the sheer size of “The Music Man” was slightly more than she was accustomed to.
“With so many scene changes and separate pieces of choreography, it can be intimidating,” Baden said. “It promises to be an outstanding show, though, as all of our shows have been. We have so many talented people working on this play that it’s guarantee to please everyone in some way.”
“The Music Man” will start at 7 p.m. on the Fridays and Saturdays of March 7, 8, 14 and 15, with an additional matinee at 1 p.m. on March 15. Tickets are available online at www.byrnesperformingarts.org, or at the door, for $7 dollars for seniors and children, and $10 for adults. For more information, call Moberly at 360-618-6300.