That marching sound you hear is probably coming from the Neil Simon Theatre, where the Susan Stroman-directed revival of The Music Man, complete with Meredith Willson's Sousa-worthy songs, begins previews April 5.
The musical comedy was one of only three Broadway scores 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," "76 Trombones," "My White Knight," "Gary, Indiana," "Goodnight, My Someone" and "The Wells Fargo Wagon."
Stroman, hot off her Lincoln Center Theater dance play, Contact, directs and choreographs the 1957 tuner with Rebecca Luker (Show Boat, The Sound of Music) as Marian the Librarian, who falls for the slick "boys' band" salesman, Harold Hill, played by film actor Craig Bierko. Official opening is April 27.
Max Casella, of "Doogie Howser, M.D." and The Lion King, is Harold Hill's pal, Marcellus, who sings the dance number, "Shipoopi." Paul Benedict ("The Jeffersons," Hughie opposite Al Pacino) plays provincial Mayor Shinn and Ruth Williamson (Epic Proportions) is his wife, Eulalie McKechnie Shinn. *
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.
The thirtysomething Bierko, perhaps best known as a film actor ("The Long Kiss Goodnight," "The Thirteenth Floor"), makes his Broadway debut in the role created by Robert Preston. The Westchester, NY, native made his stage debut at 10 at a community theatre run by his folks. He later studied and acted at Northwestern University in Chicago.
The company includes Kathy McGrath (Mrs. Paroo), Ralph Byers (Charlie Cowell), Michael Phelan (Winthrop Paroo), Clyde Alves (Tommy Djilas), Kate Levering (Zaneeta Shinn), Blake Hammond (Jacey Squires), Jack Doyle (Ewart Dunlop), John Sloman (Oliver Hix), Michael-Leon Wooley (Olin Britt), Martha Hawley (Maud Dunlop), Leslie Hendrix (Alma Hix), Tracy Nicole Chapman (Ethel Toffelmier) and Jordan Puryear (Amaryllis). The show's famous barbershop quartet (Doyle, Hammond, Sloman and Wooley) are being called The Hawkeye Four.
Ensemble cast members include Cameron Adams, Kevin Bogue, Sara Brenner, Chase Brock, Ann Brown, Ann Whitlow Brown, Liam Burke, E. Clayton Cornelious, Michael Duran, Jennie Ford, Andre Garner, Ellen Harvey, Cynthia L. Heim, Mary Illes, Joy Lynn Matthews, Michael McGurk, Robbie Nicholson, Ipsita Paul, Pamela Remler, Dan Sharkey, Jason Snow, Lauren Ullrich, Travis Wall, Jim Walton (standby for Harold Hill), Jeff Williams and Tara Young.
Designers are Thomas Lynch (sets), William Ivey Long (costumes), Peter Kaczorowski (lighting), Jonathan Deans (sound). Orchestrations are by Doug Besterman. Dance and incidental musical arrangements are by David Krane. Musical director-conductor is David Chase.
The Music Man 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 tickets are $20-$70 in previews, and $20-$85 after opening.The Neil Simon is at 250 W. 52nd Street.
Call (212) 307-4100 for ticket information.