|Who is it?||Actress, Writer, Producer|
|Book||Meredith Willson and Franklin Lacey|
|Productions||1957 Broadway 1961 West End International and regional productions 2000 Broadway revival|
|Awards||Tony Award for Best Musical|
Harold arrives, and after he reminds her of the untrue rumors he's heard about her, she convinces herself that Charlie invented everything he told her. They agree to meet at the footbridge, where Marian tells him the difference he's made in her life ("Till There Was You"). Marcellus interrupts and tells Harold that the uniforms have arrived. He urges Harold to take the money and run, but Harold refuses to leave, insisting, "I've come up through the ranks... and I'm not resigning without my commission". He returns to Marian, who tells him that she's known since three days after he arrived that he is a fraud. (Harold earlier claimed to have graduated from the Gary Conservatory in 1905, but Gary, Indiana, was not founded until 1906.) Because she loves him, she gives him the incriminating page out of the Indiana State Educational Journal. She leaves, promising to see him later at the Sociable. With his schemes for the boys' band and Marian proceeding even better than planned, Harold confidently sings "Seventy-Six Trombones". As he overhears Marian singing "Goodnight My Someone", Harold suddenly realizes that he is in love with Marian; he and Marian sing a snatch of each other's songs.
Walter Kerr of the Herald Tribune glowingly described the opening scene of the musical: "It's the beat that does it. The overture of The Music Man drives off with a couple of good, shrill whistles and a heave-ho blast from half the brass in the pit, with the heartier trombonists lurching to their feet in a blare of enthusiasm. The curtain sails up to disclose the most energetic engine on the Rock Island Railroad (circa 1912) hurtling across the proscenium with real smoke pouring out of its smokestack and real steam rolling along the rails". Kerr called Preston "indefatigable: he's got zest and gusto and a great big grin for another slam-bang march tune". Robert Coleman of the New York Daily Mirror wrote that the Producer "made a 10-strike in landing Robert Preston for the title role", stating that Preston "paces the piece dynamically, acts ingratiatingly, sings as if he'd been doing it all his life, and offers steps that would score on the cards of dance judges".
The musical includes numerous references to popular culture of the time. For Example, in making his pitch, Harold Hill lists popular Musicians and composers: Gilmore, Pat Conway, Giuseppe Creatore, W.C. Handy and John Philip Sousa. Some of the cultural references are anachronistic: "Trouble" contains references to both Captain Billy's Whiz Bang, a monthly humor magazine that did not begin publication until October 1919, and the nonalcoholic "near-beer" Bevo, which was first brewed in 1916. In addition, Rafael Méndez (referred to by Hill as "O'Mendez," a great "Irish" trumpeter) was six years old in 1912.
Frank Aston of the New York World-Telegram and Sun declared "It deserves to run at least a decade", especially praising Barbara Cook's performance as Marian: "If all our stack-tenders looked, sang, danced, and acted like Miss Barbara, this nation's book learning would be overwhelming". John Chapman of the Daily News pronounced The Music Man "one of the few great musical comedies of the last 26 years", stating that Of Thee I Sing (1931) "set a standard for fun and invention which has seldom been reached. Its equal arrived in 1950 – Guys and Dolls – and I would say that The Music Man ranks with these two". In the Journal-American, John McClain deemed the show "a whopping hit. This salute by Meredith Willson to his native Iowa will make even Oklahoma! look to its laurels".
Meredith Willson was inspired by his boyhood in Mason City, Iowa, to write and compose his first musical, The Music Man. Willson began developing this theme in his 1948 memoir, And There I Stood With My Piccolo. He first approached producers Cy Feuer and Ernest Martin for a television special, and then MGM Producer Jesse L. Lasky. After these and other unsuccessful attempts, Willson invited Franklin Lacey to help him edit and simplify the libretto. At this time, Willson considered eliminating a long piece of dialogue about the serious trouble facing River City parents. Willson realized it sounded like a lyric, and transformed it into the patter song "Ya Got Trouble". Willson wrote about his trials and tribulations in getting the show to Broadway in his book But He Doesn't Know the Territory.
The North Iowa Band Festival in Mason City, Iowa is a yearly event celebrating music with a special emphasis on marching bands. Willson returned several times to his home town of Mason City during the 1950s to participate in the event, including leading the "Big Parade". The premiere of the motion picture The Music Man was held in Mason City, and the Festival reflected the event with appearances by stars of the film, including Shirley Jones and Robert Preston.
The first recording of "Till There Was You" was released before the original cast album version. Promotional copies of the 45 rpm single, Capitol P3847, were released on November 26, 1957, even before the Broadway production had premiered. Produced by Nelson Riddle, it featured his orchestra and 17-year-old vocalist Sue Raney.
The original cast recording was released by Capitol Records on January 20, 1958 in stereophonic & monaural versions and held the #1 spot on the Billboard charts for twelve weeks, remaining on the charts for a total of 245 weeks. The cast album was awarded "Best Original Cast Album" at the first Grammy Awards ceremony in 1958 and was inducted in 1998 as a Grammy Hall of Fame Award winner.
"Till There Was You" was covered by Anita Bryant in 1959 as a single for Carlton Records, reaching #30 on the Billboard Hot 100. ln 1963, The Beatles covered "Till There Was You" on their second LP With the Beatles (issued on Meet the Beatles! in the United States). Willson's widow later told The New York Times that his estate made more money from the royalties of the Beatles' recordings of "Till There Was You" than it did from the musical.
In the 1960 film The Apartment, Jack Lemmon's character is given tickets to the show but is stood up at the Majestic Theatre. In Romy and Michele's High School Reunion (1997), Michele sings "The Wells Fargo Wagon". The next year, in The Wedding Singer (1998), Robbie teaches Rosie to sing "'Til There Was You" for her 50th wedding anniversary.
The film version, again starring Preston, with Shirley Jones as Marian, was released in 1962.
A two-week revival at New York City Center ran in June 1965, directed by Gus Schirmer, Jr. and starring Bert Parks as Harold Hill. Doro Merande and Sandy Duncan played, respectively, Eulalie and Zaneeta Shinn. A three-week revival, directed and choreographed by Michael Kidd, ran in June 1980, also at the New York City Center. The cast included Dick Van Dyke as Hill, Meg Bussert as Marian, Christian Slater as Winthrop, Carol Arthur as Mrs. Paroo, and Iggie Wolfington (who played Marcellus in the 1957 production) as Mayor Shinn.
In 1987, a Chinese translation of the musical was staged at Beijing's Central Opera Theater. New York City Opera staged a revival from February to April 1988, directed by Arthur Masella and choreographed by Marcia Milgrom Dodge, starring Bob Gunton as Hill, with Muriel Costa-Greenspon as Eulalie and James Billings as Marcellus.
The 2006 mockumentary/documentary Pittsburgh centers on actor Jeff Goldblum as he attempts to secure a green card for his Canadian actor/singer/dancer girlfriend, Catherine Wreford, by appearing with her as the leads in a summer regional theatre production of The Music Man in Goldblum's hometown of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
In 2008, there was a revival at the Chichester Festival Theatre, England, starring Brian Conley as Hill and Scarlett Strallen as Marian.
The television program Family Guy has parodied the musical at least three times. In the episode "Brian Wallows and Peter's Swallows", Lois chastises Brian's high standards in a spoof of "Piano Lesson". In another episode, "Patriot Games", Peter showboats after scoring a touchdown by leading a stadium full of people in a rendition of "Shipoopi", complete with choreography from the film. In Episode 22 of Boston Legal, "Men to Boys", Alan Shore sings a parody of the song "Trouble" to convince patrons of a restaurant not to eat the salmon. Several Music Man songs were used in Ally McBeal, for Example in the season 2 episode "Sex, Lies and Politics" in which Lawyer John Cage spurs the jury into singing "Ya Got Trouble" with him. Season 2 Episode 15 (2012), "The Super Speedy Cider Squeezy 6000", of the TV show My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, makes numerous allusions to The Music Man, including a song based on "Ya Got Trouble".
That night, the school board tries to collect Harold's credentials again, but he gets them to sing again and slips away ("Lida Rose"). Marian, meanwhile, is sitting on her front porch thinking of Harold ("Will I Ever Tell You?"). Winthrop returns home after spending time with Harold and tells Marian and Mrs. Paroo about Harold's hometown ("Gary, Indiana"). As Marian waits alone for Harold, traveling salesman Charlie Cowell enters with evidence against Harold, hoping to tell Mayor Shinn. He only has a few minutes before his train leaves, but stops to flirt with Marian. She tries to delay him so he doesn't have time to deliver the evidence, eventually kissing him. As the train whistle blows, she pushes him away. Charlie angrily tells Marian that Harold has a girl in "every county in Illinois, and he's taken it from every one of them – and that's 102 counties!"