News & Notables from the Division of Performing Arts

"The Music Man" Marches into DeSales

by Roseann Damico Schatkowski | Apr 04, 2014

Act 1 DeSales University Theatre will turn back the clock to 1912 Main Street USA with the award-winning musical, The Music Man. The family-friendly production, suitable for ages six and up, will run on the Main Stage of the Labuda Center for the Performing Arts from April 23 to May 4. Tickets are selling fast. For best availability, call the Labuda Center Box Office at 610-282-3192.

DeSales presents 'The Music Man'Featuring music and lyrics by Meredith Willson, with a book by Willson and Franklin Lacey, The Music Man premiered in 1957 at Broadway’s Majestic Theater, where it ran for 1,375 performances and would go on to receive wide critical acclaim. It was nominated for nine Tony Awards and won six, including Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Musical (Barbara Cook), Best Performance by a Featured Actor in a Musical (David Burns), Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Musical (Robert Preston), and even beat out West Side Story for Best Musical. The cast album won the first Grammy for “Best Original Cast Album” and was number one on the Billboard charts for 245 weeks. It was released as a movie starring Preston and Shirley Jones in 1962, and was inducted into the National Film Registry in 2005.

The Music Man tells the story of fast-talking con man Harold Hill, who poses as a boys’ band organizer and leader, selling instruments and uniforms to the naïve townspeople of River City, Iowa vowing to musically train their young boys and promising to keep them off the streets and out of trouble. Sadly, Harold has no musical talent and plans to skip town, money in hand, without delivering any music lessons. The town’s lovely but aloof librarian, Marian Paroo, sees through him, but her heart softens after Harold helps her younger brother overcome his shyness and prominent lisp. As Marian begins to fall in love, Harold risks being caught in order to win her over. Featuring such memorable classic show tunes such as “Goodnight, My Someone,” “Till There Was You,” “Gary, Indiana,” and “Seventy-Six Trombones,” “The Music Man” is one of the greatest musicals of all time.

The Music Man, is under the direction of Performing Arts Division Head John Bell, who will also conduct the orchestra. A professional director, choreographer, conductor, and actor, Bell’s professional credits include the Old Globe Theatre, the Lyric Opera of Chicago, Meadowbrook Theatre, the Orlando Shakespeare Festival, the Virginia Opera, and the Michigan Opera. He is the coauthor of Music Theory for Musical Theatre.

“There is a deceptive simplicity in Meredith Willson’s achievement,” says Bell. “As a Sousa-band flutist, Willson reportedly worked tirelessly on his libretto and score for The Music Man over a period of years. Legend has it that some 40 songs were written with at least 22 thrown out for various reasons. Whatever the case, his innocent and beautiful ballads and his rousing anthems to a bygone time never fail to tap into the American spirit.”

The Music Man features choreography by Stephen Casey. Casey previously directed and choreographed Act 1's Rodgers and Hart: A Celebration this past fall as well as Joseph...Dreamcoat in 2011. His choreography credits for Act 1 in include I Love a Piano, Anything Goes, Guys and Dolls, Camelot, and Thoroughly Modern Millie. This past summer he choreographed PSF's Oklahoma!, where he also choreographed South Pacific, Forum, and 1776.

J. Bennett Durham serves as the musical director. Durham is coordinator of choral activities and liturgical music at DeSales University, where he conducts the university's three choral ensembles and teaches applied voice. He served as musical director for Act 1’s I Love a Piano in 2012.

The design team brings early 20th Century River City to life with sets designed by Will Neuert, costumes by Amy Best, and lights by Elizabeth Elliott. Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival’s Matthew Given returns to offer his expertise as sound designer, after having served in the same capacity for last season’s Chicago.

The Music Man runs April 23 to May 4 on the Main Stage of the Labuda Center for the Performing Arts, Center Valley, PA. Performances are Wednesdays through Saturdays at 8:00 PM and Sundays at 2:00 PM. There is an added performance at 8:00 PM on Tuesday, April 29 (best available seating), and an added matinee at 2:00 PM on Saturday, May 3. A "talk back" with the director and cast will take place on Sunday, April 27, following the 2:00 PM performance. Tickets are selling fast. For best availability, call the Labuda Center Box Office at 610-282-3192.

Ticket prices are $26 for adults and $24 for students and seniors for weekday performances and $28 for adults and $26 for students and seniors on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays. Group discounts are also available. For tickets or more information, call the Act 1 Box Office at 610-282-3192, or visit online at

In an effort to improve accessibility for all patrons, the Saturday, May 3, 2:00 PM performance will feature Open Captioning for patrons who are deaf or hearing impaired and Audio Descriptions for patrons who are blind or visually impaired. During Open Captioned performances, all dialogue and sound effects are presented in real-time on an LED screen that is adjacent to the stage. During Audio Described performances, all action and physical appearances are described live through a headset. Tickets are only $14 per person—half price for patrons using these special services on this date. Please call box office manager Dael Jackson at 610-282-3654, ext. 1 for more information.

The Labuda Center is fully accessible and equipped with a listening enhancement system. Special seating is available for our patrons using wheelchairs or requiring other assistance. Please inform the box office of your needs when ordering tickets.

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