Join the Big Parade with THE MUSIC MAN!

October 3, 2012


Jennifer Hope Wills and Jeffrey Coon. Photo by Mark Garvin.

Philadelphia, PA: Walnut Street Theatre continues its landmark 204TH season with an all-new production of Broadway’s five-time Tony Award-winning family musical, Meredith Willson’s THE MUSIC MAN. Directed and choreographed by Marc Robin, this production will feature Philadelphia’s very own Jeffrey Coon and Broadway’s Jennifer Hope Wills. The cast also includes a live horse that will pull the Wells Fargo Wagon in the first act. THE MUSIC MAN begins previews on November 6th, opens on November 14th and runs through January 6th on the WST Mainstage.

THE MUSIC MAN is one of Broadway’s greatest musicals of all time, winning the Tony Award for Best Musical the same year West Side Story was nominated. The lovable, fast-talking con man "Professor" Harold Hill arrives in River City, Iowa promising the townsfolk that he can teach the town's children how to play in a magnificent marching band if they buy uniforms and instruments from him. (The Walnut’s marching band will include 2 teams of children from the Philadelphia area.) Falling in love with the librarian wasn’t part of the deal. The show’s Grammy Award-winning songs include "Ya Got Trouble," "Goodnight My Someone," "Till There Was You," and the show-stopping "Seventy-Six Trombones."

THE MUSIC MAN originally opened on Broadway in 1957 and ran for 1,375 performances. One of three Broadway shows written by Meredith Willson, The Music Man is set in a town largely based on his birthplace of Mason City, Iowa. Many of the musical's characters are based on people that Willson observed in his town, including “Marian the Librarian,” who was inspired by a medical records librarian he met during World War 2. The show’s success on Broadway led to two film adaptions (1962 and 2003) and two Broadway revivals (1980 and 2000).

Director and Choreographer of THE MUSIC MAN is Marc Robin. Robin is thrilled to return to the Walnut after directing its popular 2012 production of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s The King and I and the 2011 production of Irving Berlin’s White Christmas. His additional Walnut credits include Mel Brooks’ The Producers, Peter Pan and Windy City. Robin resides in Lancaster, PA and is currently the Artistic Director of the Fulton Opera House. As a freelance director/choreographer he has staged over 250 productions at theatres across the country. Robin is the recipient of 16 Joseph Jefferson Awards (46 nominations), 12 After Dark Awards, 3 Ari "Zoni" Awards, Light Opera Works Lifetime Achievement Award and 4 Barrymore Award nominations for his work at Walnut Street Theatre. Douglass G. Lutz joins Robin as the Musical and Vocal Director, a familiar role to the Gilbertsville resident. Lutz’s recent Walnut credits include Love Story, the musical; Rodgers and Hammerstein’s The King and I; Miss Saigon; Fiddler on the Roof and Oliver!.

The cozy family town of River City, Iowa will be built by a fantastic team of designers. A familiar face will appear as part of the set, with a statue and portrait resembling a certain Producing Artistic Director who is celebrating his 30th anniversary at America’s Oldest Theatre. Scenic Designer Robert Andrew Kovach (The King and I, God of Carnage, The 39 Steps, White Christmas) is joined by Lighting Designer Paul Black (The King and I, The 39 Steps, White Christmas, Curtains), award-winning Costume Designer Colleen Grady (Buddy – The Buddy Holly Story, Miss Saigon, Fiddler on the Roof ) and new-to-the-Walnut Sound Designer Robert Kaplowitz.

The cast of Meredith Willson’s THE MUSIC MAN is led by one of Philadelphia’s favorite leading men, Jeffrey Coon, and Broadway and Walnut veteran, Jennifer Hope Wills. Having performed roles on its Mainstage including Enjolras in Les Miserables, Billy Bigelow in Carousel, Che Guevara in Evita and Gaston in Beauty and the Beast, the Walnut is pleased to announce Coon’s next role as the swindling con man Harold Hill. He’ll fall head-over-heels for the town’s librarian Marian Paroo played by Wills. Wills appeared as Christine in The Phantom of the Opera for four years, with additional Broadway credits including Wonderful Town, The Woman in White and Beauty and the Beast. Walnut audiences will remember Wills as Rose Vibert in Aspects of Love and Sharon McLonergan in Finian’s Rainbow.

Coon and Wills are joined by Walnut favorites Joey Abramowicz (Miss Saigon), Scott Langdon (Love Story, the musical), Mary Martello (Oliver!), Stanley Martin (Irving Berlin’s White Christmas), Ellie Mooney (Amadeus), Fran Prisco (A Grand Night for Singing), Rebecca Robbins (A Grand Night for Singing), Alene Robertson (Irving Berlin’s White Christmas), Kerri Rose (Aspects of Love), Nicholas F. Saverine (State Fair), Erica Sweany (Mel Brooks’ The Producers), Bill Van Horn (Proof) and Denise Whelan (Man of La Mancha). Joining them are newcomers Randall Frizado, Sarah Meahl, Kevin Munhall, Alex Pepper, Chuck Ragsdale, Joseph Torello and Emmeline Wood.

The youngest members to march in the big parade are all local to the Philadelphia area. Vincent Crocilla of Vineland, NJ and Jared Brito of Philadelphia, PA share the role of Winthrop Paroo. Jamieson O’Brien of Atco, NJ and Lisa Diaz of Southampton, NJ are double cast as Amarylis. Gaby Bradbury (Oliver!, Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol) of Ardmore, PA returns to the Walnut’s stage sharing the role of Gracie Shinn with Walnut newcomer Cameron Flurry of Newtown, PA. The children’s ensemble includes: Angela Marie Burtulato, Alicia Vogel and siblings Hope McQuoid, Lucy McQuoid, Molly McQuoid, William McQuoid of Philadelphia, PA; Paige Brady of Eagleville, PA; siblings Dante Bruzzese and Giuliana Bruzzese of Voorhees, NJ; Jake Cedar of Haddonfield, NJ; Sara Fisher of Haddon Heights, NJ; Zoe Grace Fox of Glenside, PA; Sam Gamberg of Wynnewood, PA; Kurt Hartwell of Monroeville, NJ; Tyler Hentz of Doylestown, PA; Jonathon Krippe of Emmaus, PA; Grace Matwijec of Newtown, PA; Skylar Raye Noyes of Moorestown, NJ; Alexander Ryan of Chesterbrook, PA; Julia Seeley of Bryn Mawr, PA; Erik Daughterman and Nicky Torchia of Langhorne, PA; JD Triolo of West Chester, PA and Audrey Trullinger of Ambler, PA.

THE MUSIC MAN runs at the Walnut November 6 through January 6. This production is sponsored by Wells Fargo. Media Sponsors are B101 and NBC 10. For tickets and information, call 215-574-3550 or 800-982-2787. Tickets are also available online 24/7 by visiting www.WalnutStreetTheatre.org or Ticketmaster.