Let’s Get Musical

Friday, July 22, 2022
(Sentinel Photo by Beverly Van Buskirk) Cast members of “The Music Man” rehearse a scene at the Postal Playhouse in preparation for opening night at 7:30 p.m., Thursday, July 28. The show runs July 28-31 and Aug. 3-7. In this scene, Professor Harold Hill tells townspeople about trouble in River City.

LE MARS — There’s trouble in River City and it’s coming to Le Mars.

The Le Mars Community Theatre will present “The Music Man” by Meredith Willson in nine productions at the Postal Playhouse starting Thursday, July 28.

The show runs July 28-31, and Aug. 3-7, with evening performances at 7:30 p.m., and Sunday matinees at 2 p.m.

For reservations contact the Postal Playhouse at 546-5788, Monday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., or register at www.lemarslive.org.

When smooth-talking con man Harold Hill arrives in a small, tight-knit town in Iowa, he expects to dupe its residents with his elaborate moneymaking scheme.

The Music Man is a musical with book, music, and lyrics by Meredith Willson, based on a story by Willson and Franklin Lacey, and includes the songs, “Ya Got Trouble,” “Pick-a-little, Talk-a-little,” and of course, “Seventy-Six Trombones.”

COVID Doesn’t Stop Production

“This was the show we intended to do before COVID,” said Director Jennifer Scholten. “It was slated for the summer of 2020, and obviously that didn’t happen.”

“It’s been on our shelf for two years. And we’ve had a lot of changes because there were a lot of high school kids back then that we had in shows and they were pretty excited to be in the show,” she continued.

While some of those have moved on, a few were available to come back this summer.

“We had some big plans back then, but it’s all good because we found new people and new talent. We got very lucky with our cast,” she said.

Cast, Crew Are One

The cast of 30 includes two stage crew members.

“They are as much of the cast as the cast is. They’re in costume when they go out and make set changes, dressed as workmen. In one scene they come in and move the pool table, so they are cast members as well,” Scholten said.

Scholten calls the quartet the show’s “core group.”

“They are supposed to be gentlemen who are in their 40s and 50s, and they don’t get along at all, argue a lot on stage, but the minute they start singing as a quartet, they are best friends. But in our quartet, the oldest is 26. So we will see what we can do to age them a little bit.

“They are fantastic singers, they work on their own, they come here early, they stay late, and practice weekends. They are ready to go,” Scholten said.

The audience will want to watch as the quartet members’ costumes change as the show progress, she added.

“We’ve done some things with their costumes to reflect that they are becoming closer friends,” she said.

She added customer desginer Audrey Scholten has been busy working on the many costumes for the show.

“Harold Hill is the flim flam man, and has lots of costume changes,” she added.

Hill is played by Benjamin Mauritz, who was in the last musical the LCT presented.

Angela Iverson plays Marian Paroo, or “Marian the Librarian.”

Those attending the performance will also see a great set design.

“Curt Sitzmann designed an amazing set for us,” Scholten said. With the limited stage space, Sitzmann got creative and made several folding and movable panels and even a small house to change the settings of scenes.

“Curt also made two pianos for this show,” Scholten said. One is the small piano in the house. The other is a full size-piano, made from old piano parts and wood.

“We needed something for Harold to jump on during ‘76 Trombones’ and regular pianos are so heavy, so Curt said ‘I think I can make one.’ He had some old piano corbels and things to give it a look. It’s lighter to roll out, and Harold can jump up there and not ruin a piano,” she said.

Scholten said she really loves the musical.

“Well it’s hard not to,” she said. “It’s Iowa, a little tongue in cheek about Iowa, and there might be some stinging remarks about how Iowans are, but you can tell that Meredith Willson loved living in Iowa.”

Willson’s characters are based on people in his hometown of Mason City, mostly a compilation of several individuals.

“Willson brings life to their community,” she said.

Actors of All Ages Take the Stage

The cast has a wide range of ages, with the youngest performer 9 years old and the oldest 90.

Bracyn Gengler, 9, plays Winthrop Peroo.

“He’s the guy who Harold takes under his wing. He’s shy and doesn’t talk because he has a lisp and he is embarrassed by it,” Scholten said. “We found Bracyn in Merrill (a neighbor of cast member Jeff Neary). He read very well, he sings, and he can do a lisp like you can’t believe. He can’t wait to get up there and do his songs.”

Gengler sounded confident as he talked about why he wanted to try out for “The Music Man.”

“I have done a children’s theater play and it was for kids and high school kids and it inspired me to do ‘Music Man,’” he said.

His favorite part of the show?

“I like the dance Marian the Librarian. We did a dance for that and that’s cool,” he said. His favorite song is “Gary, Indiana.”

And what about working with all the adults?

“At first I was nervous, but I got used to it,” he said. He added it helped that his neighbor is also on stage.

“I like to sing. It’s fun,” he said.

Gengler will be a fourth grader at Gehlen Catholic School this fall. His parents are Jeff and Stephanie Gengler.

Ninety-year-old Wayne Marty plays the role of Constable Locke.

He has been in numerous productions in the past. So what induced him to try out for “The Music Man?”

“Well, I like the music, I like to sing, the opportunities aren’t as frequent as they used to be, and I like ‘Music Man,’” he said. “And I like to mix with these younger people and experience their talent, which is amazing. So all of those are contributing factors to being here on stage.”

He has had roles in the musicals, “Mame,” “Clue the Musical” and “The Addams Family.”

He said with his part as Constable, he had to learn how to handle the handcuffs.

“I can’t keep up with their dancing,” he added.

One of the first scenes, on the train, has the group of men, Marty included, talking, or actually singing, to the rhythm of the train on the tracks.

Marty’s line is “whatdatalk.”

“The repetition isn’t so bad, over and over, but when you have to get real sentences out, it becomes somewhat of a stumbling block to keep the same rhythm,” he said. “Those young guys spit them out well. They have wonderful enunciation at that fast pace,” he said.

The musical’s director is Father Paul Eisele, with Josh Vore as producer.

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