The Missouri Western theater instructor often has directed musicals of an edgier, more modern style, like "Sweeney Todd," "The Drowsy Chaperone" and
While reviewing his materials, however, he found his inspirational spark. It was a brief note from playwright
"It says, 'This show is not intended to be a caricature. It's intended to be a valentine,'" Quillin recites. "It's a valentine to the people that were near and dear to his heart. He didn't want them to be portrayed as buffoonish or clowny. He wanted them to be played as honest people."
That heartfelt honesty has served as the driving force for the cast and crew of
Written by Willson in 1957, "The Music Man" is a sweet ode to life in
Taking place in the summer of 1912, "The Music Man" follows fast-talking traveling salesman "Professor"
Quillin, Henry, Perry and
"It's a different take on it, and I'm really enjoying that immensely," says Simmons, a member of the
Simmons points to her scenes with Perry as an example. Many productions, and even the 1962 film based on the musical, depicted Mrs. Paroo and her daughter as too close to be confrontational. Their disagreements were very conversational. In
"Even though we love each other, there's still a sense that she's a grown-up and I should let her go. I like that tension because it feels so real," Simmons says.
Quillin says there are several interactions where he and the cast have dug a little deeper, but it doesn't stop there. The director also has taken a more accurate approach to the visuals of the production, which will come much closer to the look of rural
"I actually specifically told our costume designer, 'No pastel. Nothing pastel in the show,'" Quillin says with a chuckle. "I wanted to have either the fabric, the material or the actual clothing that, depending on their socio-economic status, came from the
Although the audience won't be bombarded by the bright colors, the playbook's bright spirit and bright music remain prevalent in
"With almost every song in this show, you leave humming it," Perry says. "It really sticks with you."
The cast largely agrees that one of its strongest numbers is the closer "76 Trombones," to which it has taken a very unique approach (we won't give it away here). Henry says he's had a blast working through the speedy verbiage of "Ya Got Trouble," and just about everyone has raved over the work of The Quartet, which includes
But, at the end of the day, they've all raved about the incredibly fun and perfectly executed "Shipoopi." The song is anchored by powerhouse vocalist
"Randy has just blown me away with that song," says Henry, who's playing
Davis says he crafted the quickly paced choreography of "Shipoopi" to match the spunk of the cast and the energy that
"That number was not created because I wanted it to be that way," Davis explains. "It was because of the town and the people who are present. That's what I saw and what I felt."
Quillin says that, in addition to the honesty of the script, that sense of energy and community are what he has tried to highlight throughout the last two weeks of rehearsal. He sincerely hopes that people go away feeling that excitement as they leave
"I wanted us -- the audience -- to be able to fall in love with not just the idea of River City, but with River City itself again, just like Harold does," Quillin says. "He doesn't just get swept up by Marian, he gets swept up by every person in that town."
Tickets for the "The Music Man" are
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