That delectable little bonbon popped out of the candy box June 16 when the Keen Company, for its tenth annual benefit, staged a backers' audition of sorts for The Music Man 53 years too late. Brian d'Arcy James and Kelli O'Hara starred as Willson and his wife Rini in an hour-long entertainment at the Lortel, based largely on And Then I Wrote 'The Music Man', a 1959 Columbia Records recording in which the Willsons review the history and songs of the show. Also included were anecdotes from Willson's 1959 autobiography, "But He Doesn't Know the Territory."
"If this goes well, we're going to do it again," promised Keen's artistic director, Carl Forsman, who helmed the piece. "MTI [Music Theatre International] gave us conditional rights for tonight, and I think that if they liked what they saw, then they will allow us to go forward with a production of this. There's room for more. I've interpolated two sections of the book, and there's going to be more of that if we go to the next step. There's this wonderful backstory about him trying to get his mother into the show. He had this image of his mom that he really wanted in the play, and he couldn't figure how to get it in. And, when they were out of town in Philadelphia, he realized that Marian was his mom—but it wasn't until the show was written and workshopped and performed for two-and-a-half cities that he saw, 'Oh, there she is.'"
— Harry Haun