Actor Craig Bierko will be Harold Hill in the spring 2000 Broadway revival of The Music Man, a spokesperson for the show confirmed Oct. 18.
Bierko was shoved to the top of the speculation list this fall, above such past names (rumored, imagined or possible) as Steve Martin, Scott Bakula, Bill Irwin, Matthew Broderick, Patrick Swayze, Alec Baldwin and others.
Bierko is primarily known as a film actor, in "The Thirteenth Floor" and "The Long Kiss Goodnight."
Susan Stroman will direct and choreograph The Music Man for Dodger Endemol Productions.
Stroman is the hottest thing going in New York in fall 1999: Her collaboration with John Weidman, Contact, billed as a "dance play," is a sell-out at Lincoln Center Theatre's Mitzi Newhouse and will move to the Tony-eligible LCT Beaumont in March 2000. The revival of Meredith Willson's Music Man (1957) is expected for the first quarter of 2000, with rehearsals beginning in December. It was previously mentioned as a fall 1999 possibility.
A theatre has not been announced, nor has the rest of the creative team.
Stroman's choreography credits include Steel Pier, Crazy For You, Big and London's hit Oklahoma! (which has been captured on film).
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." The show's "story" is by Willson and Franklin Lacey.
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" (which is thought to have been written by Frank Loesser, who promoted and supported the project for years prior to its Broadway debut). 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.