Craig Bierko, the Tony Award-nominated actor lauded for his healthy baritone and sexy performance as Harold Hill in Broadway's The Music Man exits the show May 6 after more than a year.
He now reportedly looks to the new Susan Stroman-Harry Connick Jr. musical, Thou Shalt Not, to be presented by Lincoln Center Theater in fall 2002.
Of Music Man, reviewers and audiences observed that, vocally, Bierko sounded similar to the muscle-voiced Robert Preston, who originated the part of the shady but charming "boys' band" salesman. Tall and dark Bierko was routinely greeted at the stage door by female fans, according to fellow cast members.
The 36-year-old Bierko, chosen as the "Sexiest Man on Broadway" by People magazine last year, was perhaps best known as a film actor ("The Long Kiss Goodnight," "The Thirteenth Floor"), before making his Broadway debut in The Music Man. 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.
Eric McCormack, of TV's "Will & Grace," steps into the role of Harold Hill May 8 at the Neil Simon Theatre. He'll continue in the role through the spring-summer hiatus of his hit TV sitcom, but possible actors' and writers' strikes could conceivably lengthen his stay. Toronto-born McCormack may be widely known for "Will & Grace" (he plays Will), but his background is richly theatrical, including roles over five seasons at the Stratford Festival in Canada. McCormack's work on "Will & Grace" has netted him Emmy and Golden Globe nominations. The Music Man, with Rebecca Luker as Marian the Librarian (who continues in the role), opened April 27, 2000. Previews began April 5, 2000. Q Records released an original cast recording of the revival June 13, 2000.
A non-Equity national tour goes on the road this year.
The musical comedy was one of only three Broadway scores 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."
Susan Stroman directs and choreographs the 1957 tuner.
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 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 Manplays at The Neil Simon Theatre: 250 W. 52nd Street. Call (212) 307-4100 for ticket information.