Producers of the new TV musical version of the durable Broadway hit, The Music Man, have snagged Victor Garber as Mayor Shinn, Molly Shannon as Mrs. Shinn, David Aaron Baker as Marcellus and Debra Monk as Mrs. Paroo.
Filming is expected to begin in Toronto in late May and continue into June and July, a production source confirmed. The soundtrack is in the process of being recorded, with Tony Award-winners Matthew Broderick and Kristin Chenoweth starring as con man Prof. Harold Hill and Marian the Librarian, respectively.
The three-hour TV event is a "Wonderful World of Disney" pic, likely for the 2002-2003 season. Jeff Bleckner ("The Beach Boys: An American Family") directs and Broadway's Kathleen Marshall choreographs.
Monk has appeared in the Broadway musicals Thou Shalt Not, Steel Pier and Company and in Lincoln Center Theatre's Ah! Wilderness! Garber was Anthony Hope in Broadway's Sweeney Todd, and now stars in ABC-TV's spy series, "Alias." Shannon is a veteran of "Saturday Night Live." Baker was seen in Broadway's Once Upon a Mattress.
A set in Toronto passes for smalltown Iowa, circa 1912. Meredith Willson penned the script and the score of the Broadway original, drawing on his Midwest youth and his love for marching bands and all things musical. Marshall, who created dance for Broadway's Kiss Me, Kate as well as Seussical and a handful of Encores! concerts, is following the path of brother Rob Marshall. He choreographed the hit Disney-Storyline telepic, "Cinderella," starring Brandy and Whitney Houston, and then blossomed as director-choreographer for TV's "Annie" and the upcoming film, "Chicago" (opening Christmas Day).
Composer-lyricist-librettist Meredith Willson's Americana-filled The Music Man, a 1957 Broadway smash that won the Best Musical Tony Award, recently enjoyed a Broadway revival and is seen on a non-Equity national tour. A 1962 film starred Shirley Jones and original Broadway star Robert Preston (along with much of the original cast).
Chenoweth is known for her Tony Award-winning comic performance in You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown and her ability to present both a stunning belt voice and a shimmering soprano. She appeared as Lily St. Regis in Storyline's "Annie." A recent sitcom tailored for her flopped on NBC. Broderick recently exited the Broadway smash, The Producers and appeared on Broadway in How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying (winning a Tony), among other plays.
The score of The Music Man includes choice material for Marian, including "My White Knight," "Goodnight My Someone," "Lida Rose" and "Till There Was You." In the 1962 film version, a new song ("Being in Love") was written for Marian to replace "My White Knight" (in the hope of snagging an Oscar nom for Best Song).
The score also includes "Seventy-Six Trombones," "Gary, Indiana," "Marian the Librarian," "The Wells Fargo Wagon," "Trouble" and more.
— By Kenneth Jones