The timetable for the Dodger Endemol Theatrical Productions revival of Meredith Willson's The Music Man is for early 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. No casting or creative team has been announced, although Stroman, the powerhouse choreographer behind Steel Pier, Crazy For You, Big and London's hit Oklahoma!, will also create the dances.
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 names Alec Baldwin, Steve Martin and Matthew Broderick were mentioned in the press for the role of Prof. Harold Hill, but no cast is announced.
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.