Robert O'Hara to Bring African-American Concert Production of The Music Man to New Jersey

News   Robert O'Hara to Bring African-American Concert Production of The Music Man to New Jersey
A concert version of Meredith Willson's The Music Man, performed by an African-American cast, will play the New Jersey Performing Arts Center and Two River Theater.

A collaboration between the two performing arts spaces, The Music Man will be directed by NAACP and Obie Award-winning director Robert O'Hara and feature music direction by Kenny Seymour.

"In O'Hara's staging, River City will be an African-American town, based on historical accounts of black communities established by former slaves across the United States, including in Iowa, after the Civil War," press notes state.

Performances will run March 13-16, 2014, at Two River Theater in Red Bank and March 21-23 at NJPAC in Newark.

Casting will be announced at a later date.

The Music Man won the Tony Award for Best Musical in 1957 and the first Grammy Award for Best Original Cast Album. The musical, which features music, lyrics and a book by Wilson, tells the story of traveling con man Harold Hill, who arrives in River City, IA, intending to sell the town on a fake marching band. His plans become complicated when he falls for local piano teacher and librarian Marian Paroo. "NJPAC is thrilled to launch a collaboration with Two River Theater with one of the most beloved musicals of all time, especially through this fresh new take by Robert O'Hara," John Schreiber, president and CEO of the New Jersey Performing Arts Center, said in a statement. "Both NJPAC and Two River are dedicated to engaging our respective communities through diverse programming, and I can't wait to hear Meredith Willson's great score performed by a fantastic cast of African-American theatre talents."

"As a playwright — and go-to director of others' original work — Robert O'Hara brings to life the too-often-untold stories of African Americans in ways that are dynamic and highly theatrical," John Dias, artistic director of Two River Theater, said in statement. "He's also got a great love of American theatre traditions — particularly musicals — that he approaches with an equal measure of reverence and sassiness. We are excited to see this great American classic through his inimitable lens."

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