Director Maycock says: “The Music Man’ offers ‘something for everyone’

The Enterprise — Michael Koff

“Seventy-six trombones led the big parade”: Professor Harold Hill, portrayed by Sean Gordon, with a red feather in his hat to match is coat, plays an air instrument as he leads a would-be band of River City kids. Following close behind is Winthrop Paroo, played by Riley Better.

GUILDERLAND — Just as Meredith Wilson was inspired by his boyhood in Iowa to write “The Music Man,” Andy Maycock was inspired by his boyhood to bring the 1950s’ Broadway hit to the Guilderland stage.

“It’s one of those shows I grew up with,” said Maycock, now an English teacher at Guilderland High School. Maycock is 49, the same age as the Guilderland Players, the troupe that will put on the show this weekend. “When I was in elementary school, my music teacher had us sing it together in class,” he said.

Some of the show’s best-known songs include “Goodnight, My Someone,” “Seventy-Six Trombones,” “Gary, Indiana,” and “Till There Was You.”

Maycock decided to have elementary students — 10 of them — perform in the current production. While the Guilderland Players in years’ past used children in “The Sound of Music” and “South Pacific,” Maycock said, those plays each had just two actual children while high-school students played the parts of other children.

He checked last spring with the district’s superintendent, Marie Wiles, and its transportation director, Danielle Porlier, about bringing the elementary students to the high school two days a week. “They said, ‘Absolutely, no problem,’” Maycock recalled.

“The energy the high-school kids have when the little kids are there is different — it’s heightened, happier,” said Maycock.

“The Music Man” is set in the fictional town of River City, Iowa in 1912. A con man — Professor Harold Hill — comes to town on a train. “His game is to convince people they need something they don’t,” said Maycock.


The Enterprise — Michael Koff
“You’ve got to know your territory”: Professor Harold Hill, played by Sean Gordon, at far left, converses with other salesmen as their train arrives in River City, Iowa.
Listening , from right, are Tommy Djilas, played by Jie Weng; Olin, played by Sean Donnelly; Charlie Cowell, played by Sumner Jewell; and Marcellus, played by André Valverde.


Hill gets the parents in town to worry their kids will get in trouble and they’ve “gotta find a way to keep the young ones moral after school” as the patter song, “Ya Got Trouble,” puts it. “He passes himself off as a music teacher to sell instruments, uniforms, music books,” said Maycock. “He plans to take the money and run.”

However, Hill meets his match in the town’s sedate librarian, a bona fide music teacher, Marian Paroo. “She sees through him but is also charmed by him. He bonds with her little brother, Winthrop,” explains Maycock.

That sets up the play’s dilemma: Does Professor Harold Hill leave with the money or stay for the girl?

Sean Gordon, a high school senior, aced the part of Hill in the audition, said Maycock. Gordon sings in the chamber choir and is interested in film and musical theater. “He already had an idea of the character,” said Maycock, even before rehearsals began.

To play Harold Hill, Maycock said, “Sean uses a different kind of approach. It’s hard to make Harold Hill likeable — he’s scamming the town and manipulating the librarian. But something about the way Sean plays it, he’s charming, not sinister.”

Marian is played by Natalie Russo, another Guilderland senior, who has been in four musicals.

“Both of her parents are music teachers in the district, so she didn’t have a chance,” said Maycock.

“She’s wonderfully sweet with a positive outlook.” said Maycock. “You see her on stage and want her to win, to be the victor.”

Another standout is Riley Better, a student at Pine Bush Elementary School, who plays the part of Winthrop, Marian’s brother with his famous lisp.

“He’s a great kid, super energetic,” said Maycock. “He has a great mop of hair, and he gives it his all. There’s never a day Riley is down. He’s a good model for the high school kids. He’s in it to work.”

At the same time, Maycock said, Riley is still a kid. For instance, he’s fond of using an app on his cell phone that turns pictures of himself and other cast members into classic works of art.

Maycock is particularly proud of the performance given by the barbershop quartet, under the direction of Claudia Golub, a high school music teacher who serves as the show’s musical director and also conducts the pit orchestra.

Maycock has heard other productions of “The Music Man” where the barbershop quartet, singing “Goodnight, Ladies” or “Lida Rose,” has to depend on the band to stay on key.

“They’re really tough harmonies,” said Mayock. “But she did it,” he said of Golub. “It’s legitimate a cappella.”

Farnsworth Middle School students saw a dress rehearsal on Wednesday. Senior citizens are bused in for opening night on Thursday. And Maycock anticipates a lot of elementary school students will be on hand with their families to watch classmates perform in Sunday’s matinée.

“There is something suitable for everyone in this show,” concluded Maycock.


The Enterprise — Michael Koff
Kissing his sister: Winthrop, played by Riley Better, plants one on the cheek of Marian Paroo, played by Natalie Russo, in the Guilderland Players’ production of “The Music Man.”


“The Music Man” plays on the Guilderland High School stage, at 98 School Rd. in Guilderland Center, this weekend. The curtain opens at 7 p.m. on Thursday, March 15; Friday, March 16; and Sunday, March 17. The matinée on Sunday, March 18, begins at 2 p.m.

Tickets in the center of the auditorium cost $10; on the sides, $5; and, in between, $7.

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