News Column

?Music Man:' Classic show opens Playhouse season

August 23, 2014

By Stephanie Turner, Aiken Standard, S.C.



Aug. 23--When this director found out what her next show will be, she had one request -- to have a live orchestra.

Her request was granted.

Next month, audiences will be treated to more than live music when the Aiken Community Playhouse presents "The Music Man."

The musical is the opener for the Playhouse's 2014-15 season.

The show will run Sept. 5, 6, 12, 13, 19 and 20 at 8 p.m., and on Sept. 14 at 3 p.m.

Tickets are $25 for adults, $20 for those 60 and older, $15 for students and $10 for children younger than 12.

It will be performed at the URS Center for Performing Arts, 126 Newberry St. S.W.

The play follows smooth-talking con man Harold Hill as he tries to hoodwink the citizens of River City, Iowa.

Hill, with no real music expertise, promises the small town he will start a boys' band.

Riding off this promise, Hill starts to sell uniforms and instruments with plans to skip town with the profits.

However, those plans are thwarted when his eyes land upon the town's beautiful librarian, Marian Paroo.

"The Music Man" was written by Meredith Wilson and opened in 1957, according to Playbill's website.

Since then, it has been revived on Broadway twice and adapted into two movies.

The Playhouse's upcoming version is directed by Lisa Kirschner.

This is Kirschner's first time directing a musical.

Before now, she's acted in musicals, sang in operatic roles and directed a couple Playhouse Youth Wing productions.

"It's been daunting," Kirschner admitted. "Not only is it a musical but it's a very large scale musical (that's also) iconic."

Mentoring and assisting Kirschner is Marcia Harris.

Harris has been with the Playhouse for more than 30 years.

She just finished directing her own musical, "Nunsense."

"Nunsense" closed out the Playhouse's 2013-14 season.

It had five cast members.

"The Music Man" has more than 50.

However, Harris didn't feel any pressure transitioning between the two shows, she said.

Harris is mainly on board to help Kirschner project her vision.

"When you are a director, you are the keeper of the picture," Harris said. "When you direct, you have a picture of what you want the people to see."

Harris added, "Kirschner's done an excellent job, and she has an overall great cast."

That cast consists of children, teenagers and adults. For the complete cast list, visit the online version of this story.

Starring as Marian is Lisa Tharp Bernard.

The show, and this role, are not new to her.

"I've played Marian twice before," she said.

Once was for the Aiken Kidney Benefit; the other was for now-Georgia Regents University.

During one of these performances, she caught the eye of a particular bystander, Brian Bernard.

"He saw me on stage and said, 'That's the one,'" Lisa said.

The two have been married since 2009 and have eight children.

Brian is playing Oliver Hix.

The show's musical director is Melanie Wade Larsen and its choreographer is Julia Todd Crider.

Cory Herbst is the stage manager and light designer.

Also on the show's crew are Shanna and Scott Howard on set design, Debbie McFall on costumes and Sandra and Elora Yochum on props.

Directing the 15-plus piece orchestra are David Culp and Phillip Hare.

The orchestra is comprised of local musicians.

"There's an energy and a symbiotic relationship that happens when you have live music, live onstage performers and a live audience," Kirschner said. "It's a whole other level of performance."

For the complete orchestra list, visit the online version of this story.

One could say Culp feels right in his current conducting role. "I've watched the movie countless times and played (the show) numerous times," Culp said.

In 2007's Aiken Kidney Benefit, he played the role of Harold aside Bernard's Marian.

Taking on the role of Harold this time will be Brad King. King has his own attachments to the show.

In 1990, Brad's father Bob King was cast as Harold Hill. "It was the first year we came to Aiken," Brad recalled.

While Brad has acted in the same shows his father acted in before, "this is the first time I've ever done the same role," he said.

When Brad was cast as Harold, he was "over the moon."

His father passed away in 2012.

On opening weekend, Brad's mother and Bob's mother -- Brad's grandmother -- will be in the audience.

"This show is beautifully written and beautifully drawn," Kirschner said. "It's not reinvented because it does not need to be reinvented ... My mission is to be true to the vision of Meredith Wilson."

During the show's run, Brad will pay a silent nod to his father.

The briefcase he will carry is the same one his father carried as Harold 25 years ago.

For more information or to purchase tickets, visit www.aikencommunityplayhouse.us or call 803-648-1438.

Stephanie Turner graduated from Valdosta State University in 2012. She then signed on with the Aiken Standard, where she is now the arts and entertainment reporter.

___

(c)2014 the Aiken Standard (Aiken, S.C.)

Visit the Aiken Standard (Aiken, S.C.) at www.aikenstandard.com

Distributed by MCT Information Services


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Source: Aiken Standard (SC)


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