The Scene

Marriott’s ‘Music Man’ hits all the right notes

Show plays in the round on Lincolnshire stage

"The Music Man" at Marriott Theatre in Lincolnshire in 2024.

“You pile up enough tomorrows and you’ll find you’re left with nothing but a lot of empty yesterdays. I don’t know about you, but I’d like to make today worth remembering.”

– “Harold Hill”

I love that dialogue from “The Music Man.” It sums up in two sentences my feeling about Marriott Theatre’s production in Lincolnshire. Days after seeing Meredith Willson’s classic musical from the late 1950s, I recognize the inherent truth in the lines.

Thanks to a combination of Willson’s fun, moving and romantic plot, along with Marriott’s outstanding choreography, chemistry between the leads and beautifully performed songs, that official opening night was a day “worth remembering” instead of one of those “empty yesterdays.”

The dialogue is spoken late in Act II by con man Harold Hill, who’s come to River City, Iowa – population 2,212 – intending to fleece the “Iowa Stubborn” adults as he’s done in many towns. Harold has convinced the citizens they need a band for the boys to take part in, even though he “don’t know one note from another” in the words of another traveling salesman. At the time Harold says those lines, they’re part of his scheme to distract the town music teacher/librarian Marian Paroo, the only one in River City who might find him out, but Harold never considered the possibility of falling in love.

“The Music Man” opened on Broadway in December 1957 and ran for 1,375 performances, earning six Tony Awards, including Best Musical. It’s had three Broadway revivals in subsequent years, including a short run with Dick Van Dyke as Hill in June 1980. It’s been filmed more than once and been staged in countless high schools and community theaters over the past 60-plus years. So you may well ask why I recommend you catch this particular production.

Well, let’s start with the cast. KJ Hippensteel, who played Nick Bottom in “Something Rotten” at the Marriott a few years back in addition to performing on Broadway and West End stages, is amazing as Harold Hill. Hippensteel can do the rapid patter needed for “Ya Got Trouble,” slyly steer four argumentative school board members away from needing his credentials and into barbershop quartet harmony, do physical comedy with tables, benches and library books during a fun “Marian the Librarian” production number and show a caring side toward Marian’s much younger brother, Winthrop, who retreated into his shell because of self-consciousness over a lisp and grief from the loss of his father years before.

Alexandra Silber as Marian (from left) and KJ Hippensteel as Harold Hill in "The Music Man" at Marriott Theatre in Lincolnshire in 2024.

Holding her own – and then some – is Alexandra Silber as Marian. Silber’s operatic voice is put to excellent use on songs such as “Goodnight, My Someone” and “Will I Ever Tell You?” Her “Till There Was You” late in the second act may well activate your tear ducts. With her touching portrayal, we know it’s not because of the urging of her mother, as charmingly played by talented Chicago-area actress Janet Ulrich Brooks, that Marian starts to see beyond Harold’s slick manner. It’s because she realizes her “white knight” may have only occasionally shining armor.

Other standouts in the cast include Kai Edgar as Winthrop, whose confidence grows in the days after Harold comes to town; Alex Goodrich as a hilarious mayor/husband/father who can’t control his wife, his daughter or his citizens because of the “spellbinder” (Harold); Michael Earvin Martin as Marcellus Washburn, a friend and former colleague of Harold who now lives in River City and isn’t pulling cons anymore, but idolizes Harold’s ability (Martin also has infectious fun leading the “Shipoopi” number); and Melanie Loren as Eulalie Mackecknie Shinn, the mayor’s outgoing wife convinced by Harold to lead a ladies’ dance ensemble (their attempts to personify a Grecian urn and a fountain are a comic highlight).

In addition to the cast that is wonderfully directed and fantastically choreographed by Katie Spelman, I enjoyed the nine-member orchestra under the direction of Kevin Reeks. It may not have all “Seventy-Six Trombones,” but the brass, strings, reeds, percussion, keyboards and acoustic bass blend well, and the actors clearly are heard on every song. And for “The Music Man,” you really want to hear that music, man (pun intended).

I also was impressed by the 1912-era costumes (congrats, costume designer Raquel Adorno) and the way scenic designer Collette Pollard – with the use of limited set pieces (such as strings of lanterns outlining a footbridge) – still brought the locations to life.

Finally, laughs are plentiful.

“Worth remembering,” the staging of “The Music Man” hits all the right notes for me. It brings the merry to Marriott.

Note: Among the young talents in the show are Kai Edgar (Winthrop Paroo), a seventh grader from St. Charles whose sister Kalea Edgar, a high school sophomore, is in the show’s ensemble cast; Naya Rosalie James (Grace Shinn), a sixth grader at Highland Elementary School in Downers Grove; and Elin Joy Seiler (Amaryllis), a seventh grader from Wheaton.

• Paul Lockwood is a communications consultant at Health Care Service Corporation in Chicago, as well as a local theater actor, singer, Grace Lutheran Church (Woodstock) and Toastmasters member, columnist and past president of TownSquare Players. He and his wife have lived in Woodstock for more than 23 years.


• WHAT: “The Music Man”

• WHERE: Marriott Theatre, 10 Marriott Drive, Lincolnshire

• WHEN: Wednesday through Sunday through June 2

• INFORMATION: 847-634-0200,