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ITHACA, NY – “The Music Man,” a beloved classic perfect for the whole family, kicks off the tenth anniversary season of Running to Places (R2P) Jan. 13-15 at the State Theatre of Ithaca. The joyous show is a perfect cure for the winter blues, with its crowd-pleasing music and big dance numbers.
Con artist Harold Hill (Joey Steinhagen) arrives in highly conventional River City, Iowa, and announces his intention to form a boys’ band. The independent and educated librarian Marian Paroo (Lynn Craver) sees right through Harold, but her lisping brother Winthrop (Kii Kinsella) jumps at the chance to play in a band. Harold’s old friend Marcellus (Nick Mras) tries to help him run his grift despite the efforts of rival salesman Charlie Cowell (Ari Cummings), who has evidence that could unmask Harold. As romance grows between con man and librarian and band supplies begin to arrive, change comes to River City – and to Harold.
“This is a timeless and beautiful story which illuminates the possibility of change and growth,” says Tucker Davis, director. “Harold Hill ultimately has the fortune of opening his heart to a family, and in turn this family and the entire town of River City are able open their hearts and minds to a world of new ideas brought to them by an outsider.”
“The story of this show mirrors the mission of R2P,” adds Steinhagen, R2P artistic director. “The kids of River City ultimately are transformed through exploring the arts — as are their families and community. Being part of a community that has allowed our ragtag youth theatre company to reach a tenth season is deeply gratifying and humbling.”
Steinhagen plays Harold, and artistic director of Opera Ithaca Lynn Craver plays Marian, because the board wanted to do something special to honor the anniversary, explained R2P board President Lilly Westbrook. “We are so pleased and excited that we can give our company members the opportunity to work alongside professionals.”
“Lynn is an incredible musician and her voice is show stopping,” says Davis. “The cast erupts into applause every time she sings.”
Serving as an actor rather than director enabled Steinhagen to be a different kind of role model for the company, says Davis. “His bold and brave acting choices in the rehearsal room serve as a great example and inspiration to the student actors.”
Davis has a long history with The Music Man; he was on the first national Broadway tour of the show, directed by five-time Tony Award winner Susan Stroman. The Music Man is the fourth show Davis has worked on with R2P and is his first time directing for the company.
“I’m tough on the kids: I ask of them what I ask of my Ithaca College students and what I’d ask of professional actors as well,” says Davis. “I believe if you trust in them they will deliver. And they do.”
The grandest number in the show is “Shipoopi,” says Davis, an all-hands-on deck extravaganza of singing and dancing. “Marian the Librarian” is a “web of movement and storytelling,” he adds, that includes partner dancing and soft-shoe tap work.
The design team includes Liz Woods, for period costumes; Jim and Deb Drew, scenic design; and Jeremy Pletter, resident music director. Tucker Davis, an instructor in dance and musical theatre at Ithaca College, as director and choreographer.
The Music Man is sponsored by Purity Ice Cream, with scholarship support from the Savage Club of Ithaca, Buttermilk Falls Pediatrics and an anonymous fund at the Community Foundation of Tompkins County. Additional grant support is provided by the Park Foundation and the Community Arts Partnership of Tompkins County, with season-long support from CSP Management.
The show runs one weekend only: Jan. 13-15, Friday and Saturday at 7 PM, Sunday at 2 PM. Tickets are $20 general admission, $14 students and seniors, and $12 for groups of 10 or more, available at the State Theatre box office at 105 West Martin Luther King Jr. Street, by calling 607-277-8283, and at www.stateofithaca.com. More information at www.runningtoplaces.org.
Fri, Jan. 13 at 7:00 pm
Sat, Jan. 14 at 7:00 pm
Sun, Jan. 15 at 2:00 pm