McCormack Leaves River City Behind, Exits Music Man Aug. 5

News   McCormack Leaves River City Behind, Exits Music Man Aug. 5 Eric McCormack of TV's "Will & Grace" — to say nothing of the prestigious Stratford Festival in Ontario — packs up his sample case as Broadway's Prof. Harold Hill in The Music Man Aug. 5.

Eric McCormack of TV's "Will & Grace" — to say nothing of the prestigious Stratford Festival in Ontario — packs up his sample case as Broadway's Prof. Harold Hill in The Music Man Aug. 5.

Toronto-born McCormack, widely known for playing Will Truman in the hit NBC series, heads back to a Los Angeles TV studio for a new season of the sitcom. Robert Sean Leonard, a Tony Award-winner for The Invention of Love, joins the Music Man troupe at the Neil Simon Theatre Aug. 7.

McCormack made his Broadway debut with the hit revival of the Meredith Willson musical, but is no stranger to the stage — he's a veteran of the prestigious Stratford Festival in Canada. He put on the gold fringed, scarlet band-leader jacket to become Prof. Harold Hill May 8, for a summer run during his hiatus. Observers said he made the role his own, adding charm and quirk. McCormack had said publicly he wasn't familiar with the film version that starred the indelible, paternal baritone Robert Preston, who originated the role on Broadway.

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Craig Bierko, the Tony Award-nominated actor lauded for his healthy baritone and sexy performance as Harold Hill in this Music Man revival left the show May 6 after more than a year. Robert Preston memorably created the role of the shady but charming salesman in the 1957 original, and in the film version. McCormack played five seasons at the Stratford Festival, in Stratford, Ontario. His work on "Will & Grace" has netted him Emmy and Golden Globe nominations.

The Music Man, revival with Rebecca Luker as Marian the Librarian (who continues in the role), opened April 27, 2000. Previews began April 5, 2000. The cast album is on the Q Records label. A non-Equity national tour goes on the road this fall.

The Broadway cast now also includes Joel Blum (as Marcellus), Kenneth Kimmins (as Mayor Shinn), Ruth Gottschall (as Mrs. Shinn), Katherine McGrath (as Mrs. Paroo), Andrew Boyer (as Charlie Cowell), Manuel Herrera (as Tommy Djilas), Michael Phelan (as Winthrop) and Cameron Adams (as Zaneeta Shinn). Susan Stroman directed and choreographed the revival of 1957 tuner.

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The musical comedy was one of only three Broadway scores composer lyricist Meredith Willson wrote (and he also co-wrote its story and wrote the libretto), but Music Man has sunk into the popular American imagination: It celebrates small town Iowa in 1912, a salesman's drive to succeed, a spinster's dreams of a quality man and true romance, and a child's wish to be special.

And it does so with now-classic tunes such as "Trouble," "Seventy-Six Trombones," "My White Knight," "Gary, Indiana," "Goodnight, My Someone" and "The Wells Fargo Wagon."

The Music Man is presented by Dodger Theatricals, The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Elizabeth Williams/Anita Waxman, Kardana-Swinsky Productions, Lorie Cowen Levy/Dede Harris.

 

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The Music Man originally opened on Broadway Dec. 19, 1957, starring Preston and Barbara Cook. Book, music and lyrics are by Meredith Willson and the story is by Meredith Willson and Franklin Lacey. It was a Tony Award winner for Best Musical (skunking West Side Story) and ran 1,376 performances. Willson would not have a greater success, despite the Broadway run and movie version of The Unsinkable Molly Brown. His musical, Here's Love, based on "Miracle on 34th Street," fared less well.

The Music Man originally opened on Broadway Dec. 19, 1957, starring Preston and Barbara Cook. Book, music and lyrics are by Meredith Willson and the story is by Meredith Willson and Franklin Lacey. It was a Tony Award winner for Best Musical (skunking West Side Story) and ran 1,376 performances. Willson would not have a greater success, despite the Broadway run and movie version of The Unsinkable Molly Brown. His musical, Here's Love, based on "Miracle on 34th Street," fared less well.

The Music Man plays at The Neil Simon Theatre at 250 W. 52nd Street. Call (212) 307-4100 for ticket information.