Who'll Be Hill? Producers Still Mulling Casting for Bway Music Man in 2000

News   Who'll Be Hill? Producers Still Mulling Casting for Bway Music Man in 2000
The list of names being "mentioned" for the lead role in The Music Man, slated for Broadway in early 2000, keeps growing.

The list of names being "mentioned" for the lead role in The Music Man, slated for Broadway in early 2000, keeps growing.

Variety has reported that Scott Bakula and Bill Irwin are in the running, but a production spokesperson said producers "are considering a lot of people" and the Variety tease shouldn't be taken as gospel.

Variety's Claude Brodesser wrote that for the title role of Prof. Harold Hill producers are thinking about movement-and-mime actor Irwin, a Tony Award winner for Fool Moon, and Bakula, who appeared in Broadway's Romance, Romance and TV's "Quantum Leap."

This kind of speculation marks the beginning of the summer doldrums when reporters and fans start speculating -- sometimes wildly -- about casting for upcoming shows. Mentioned by insiders, outsiders, columnists and fans for the role of Prof. Harold Hill have been everybody from Matthew Broderick to Steve Martin to Patrick Swayze to Alec Baldwin.

A creative team to support Stroman's Music Man staging, produced by Dodger Endemol Theatrical Productions, has not been announced, but the revival of Meredith Willson's Music Man is expected for the first quarter of 2000, with rehearsals beginning in December. It was previously mentioned as a fall 1999 possibility. A spokesperson for the show, to be the Broadway directing debut of Susan Stroman, said the 1957 Tony Award-winning musical comedy is expected to land at a Nederlander theatre.

Stroman, the powerhouse choreographer behind Steel Pier, Crazy For You, Big and London's hit Oklahoma!, will also create the dances. She is also working on a play-with-dance called Contact, headed for the Mitzi Newhouse Theater at Lincoln Center in late summer. John Weidman is the author, Stroman the director-choreographer.

Auditions are beginning June 19 for children and teenage dancers, with the audition notice advising that the boys' dancing is "very athletic."


Any production of The Music Man -- about a slick, corrupt traveling salesman won over by Marian the Librarian in River City, IA -- hinges on a titular star.

The role of "boys' band" salesman Prof. Harold Hill was originated on stage and film by Robert Preston.

Set in Iowa circa 1912, The Music Man is one of the rare American musicals whose story is not lifted from pre-existing material, making it a true original, although it does draw on memories, characters and attitudes of Willson's midwestern boyhood. Willson's memoirs include "And There I Stood With My Piccolo."

Willson was a rare triple threat with The Music Man, writing book, music and lyrics.

Willson would not have a greater success, although he did write the moderate hit, The Unsinkable Molly Brown (1960), which became a film with Debbie Reynolds; and the flop, Here's Love (1963), based on "Miracle on 34th Street." His Christopher Columbus musical, 1491, closed out of town in San Francisco in 1969. He died in 1984.

The Music Man, is rich with Americana (barbershop quartets and Sousa-like parade marches) and now-standard songs such as "76 Trombones," "Ya Got Trouble," "Till There Was You" and "My White Knight." It won the Best Musical Tony Award over West Side Story in 1958. Co-stars Barbara Cook, as Marian the Librarian, and Preston both won Tonys.

The 1980 Michael Kidd-staged revival starring Dick Van Dyke had no staying power at City Center in New York City. It featured Christian Slater as Winthrop and Meg Bussert as Marian.

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