‘The Music Man’

Published 10:15 pm Saturday, July 10, 2010

Performances of “The Music Man” are July 15-17 and July 21-24 at 7:30 p.m. There is also a 2 p.m. matinee on July 18.

The box office is open Monday through Friday from 3:30 to 6 p.m. and Saturday from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. The box office phone number is 377-4371.

Tickets are $17 for adults and $14 for students.

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For Brad Grotewold of Lake Mills, Iowa, getting to play Harold Hill in “The Music Man” is one of the great joys in life.

The high school guidance counselor played the con artist with a good heart when he was a high school student in Lake Mills. Nine years ago, he had the opportunity to play the same role in a Mason City, Iowa, production.

“The Music Man” has really been a part of my life since high school,” he said.

Harold Hill is a fun character with a devilish side. “But he’s also lovable. I think I’m probably kind of like Harold,” Grotewold said.

The Albert Lea Community Theatre production of “The Music Man” opens Thursday at the Marion Ross Performing Arts Center. Steve Kinney of Austin is directing the show. Norrine Jensen is the musical director.

The Meredith Willson musical classic tells the story of fast-talking salesman Harold Hill taking the town of River City, Iowa, by storm with his plan to sell musical instruments. Along the way, his plans take an unexpected turn when he meets Marian the Librarian, played by Aimee Germann.

Germann admits she’s always wanted to play Marian, ever since she was in middle school and the high school in her community did the show.

She said her character is a bit stuck-up, something she hopes she’s not. She works at the State Bank of Bricelyn and majored in vocal performance in college in Kentucky. This is her first community theater production since moving to Minnesota almost two years ago.

This is Kinney’s first opportunity to direct this show, but he admits he’s always wanted to. It’s a play full of charming characters, rousing marches, barbershop music and sentimental ballads. It’s a family-friendly show, he added.

Because the theater decided to try producing its musical in the summer instead of winter, spring or fall, there were ample actors trying out. “It was the first time in a long time I didn’t have to call around to fill roles,” Kinney said.

He’s very pleased with the cast, he said. There are people in supporting roles who have leading-role voices.

“People fell into good niches,” the director said, adding a group came to him asking to be the barbershop quartet and another group wanted to be the Pick-a-Little ladies.

Kinney also said people are excited to be part of the chorus in a show like this. “I love to use choruses,” Kinney said. “They’re underrated, underused and ignored. But in community theater, I treat them as a major character. I try to use them more than they’ve actually been written into the show.”

Jensen actually played Mrs. Paroo when the theater did the show back in the early 1970s. She played the role again in 2008 in Owatonna.

She said the music for this show is challenging, but one she’s enjoying.

In addition to Grotewold and Germann, the play includes Zack Roberts, Derek Drescher, Roger Truax, Jim Broberg and Jim Norman as the traveling salesmen; Brian Mattson as Charlie Cowell; Paul Burger as the conductor; David Larson as Mayor Shinn; Jim Broberg as Ewart Dunlop; Bill Buege as Oliver Hix; Jim Norman as Jacey Squires; Roger Truax as Olin Britt; Gordy Handeland as Marcellus Washburn; Lucas George as Tommy Djilas; Pat Parsons as Mrs. Paroo; Carine Rofshus as Amaryllis; Noah Karge as Winthrop Paroo; Roxanne Irons as Eulalie Mackecknie Shinn; Macy Paul as Zaneeta Shinn; Grace Chalmers as Gracie Shinn; Joan Muschler as Alma Hix; Jean Aamodt as Maud Dunlop; Roxanne Ehrich as Ethel Toffelmier; Carol Larson as Mrs. Squires; and Paul Burger as Constable Locke.

The townspeople are Jill Nelson, Sandra Jimenez, Staci Waltman, Jean Aamodt, Emily George, Annmarie Caporale, Kelli Hanson, Katelyn Hendrickson, Angie Schmitt, Claire Ellis, Riley Jimenez, Justine Nelson, Elynn Johnson, Anna Andersen, Gabe Irons, Dane Brownlow, Ryan Nelson, Erik Theusch, Jaxon Heilman, Jack Waltman and Levi Miller.

Set design is by Steve Kinney with production assistance by John Fure. Karen Szymanowski is stage manager with Crystal Schatz assisting. Costumes are by Rosalie Truax.

Performances are July 15-17 and July 21-24 at 7:30 p.m. There is also a 2 p.m. matinee on July 18.

The box office is open Monday through Friday from 3:30 to 6 p.m. Saturday from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $17 for adults and $14 for students.