The sound of 76 trombones will blare on Broadway April 3, 2000, when Susan Stroman's revival of The Music Man begins performances at the Neil Simon Theatre, a spokesperson confirmed. Film actor Craig Bierko ("The Thirteenth Floor") will play the corrupt salesman, Prof. Harold Hill, who sells an Iowa town on the idea of forming a boys' marching band. The New York Times reported Dec. 10 that Rebecca Luker (Show Boat, The Sound of Music) will be the revival's Marian the Librarian, but a production spokesperson told Playbill On-Line that could not be confirmed.
No official opening date has been announced.
Ruth Williamson, currently playing the heavy-lidded Biblical-epic actress in Broadway's Epic Proportions, will decry the reading of "dirty books" as the Mayor's Wife, Eulalie McKechnie Shinn, and Paul Benedict (the respected director and actor, who appeared on TV's "The Jeffersons") will play the bumbling, provincial mayor of River City.
Bierko is primarily known as a film actor, in "The Thirteenth Floor" and "The Long Kiss Goodnight."
The revival of the Tony Award-winning 1957 tuner, by librettist composer-lyricist Meredith Willson, is produced by Dodger Endemol Productions. *
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 arare triple threat with The Music Man, writing book, music and lyrics. The show's "story" is credited to Willson and Franklin Lacey.
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.