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The stage is set - "The Music Man" will soon have you marching along with the rhythm of fun

Fri, Jul 8th, 2011
Posted in Arts & Culture

"Seventy-six trombones led the big parade, with a hundred and ten cornets close at hand..." These words invoke a familiar happy march melody that most everyone knows. They are some of the famous lyrics from the well-known musical, "The Music Man" by Meredith Willson.

Ye Olde Opera House in Spring Grove is excited to be performing the energetic and crowd-favorite musical of "The Music Man" on Thursday, July 14 through Sunday July 17th. The gates open at 7:30 p.m. with desserts being served on The Green. The show takes the stage at 8:30 p.m.

"The Music Man" returns to the stage at Ye Olde Gray Barn after 30 years with Spring Grove resident, Greg Wennes, as the leading man Harold Hill again.

"A thousand 'thirty year memories' flood back about that 1981 production," Wennes remarked with a smile about the 1981 production of "The Music Man." "The Constable was played by Howard Deters whose wife, Mary, was the leading lady 'Marion the Librarian'. Just as Harold Hill and Marion were finishing the 'kissing scene,' Howard came up from behind and grabbed us both as if he were in a fit of jealous rage to tear us apart. All of this was of course staged in advance to the raucous delight of the local people in the audience who knew the 'inside' connection. They thought poor Howard had just finally 'lost it' over the sight of his own wife being romantically entangled with this 'two bit thimble rigger!'"

Rehearsals have been in full swing with this large, talented cast. They have been working long hours preparing songs, dance steps, and perfecting every little detail to make this a polished production.

The story line

"The Music Man" is set in 1912 in the fictional town of River City, Iowa. Composer and lyricist, Meredith Willson, based "The Music Man" on his birthplace of Mason City, IA, as well as many of the people he observed in town. The river in River City is likely the Mississippi River near Davenport. With the Rock Island conductor announcing "River City, I-oway! Cigarettes illegal in this state," it is implied that they are crossing the Mississippi from Rock Island, Illinois, into Iowa.

Charming con-artist, Harold Hill, arrives in River City posing as a boys' band organizer and band leader. He sells band instruments and uniforms to naive townsfolk before skipping town with the cash. But will it turn out differently this time for Hill? The local librarian, Marian Paroo, sees through Hill's scheme, but yet also sees him as a different man. What will happen to Harold and Marian and the people of River City? Find out by attending a performance under the stars at Ye Olde Gray Barn.

On The Green

This year a wide variety of scrumptious desserts will be available for purchase on the Green prior to the show and during intermission. Menu items include trifles, angel food cake, fruity slush, watermelon pie, pineapple pie, lemon pie, chocolate mud pie, pecan caramel pie, cheesecake, and more!

They are proud to announce that they are also going green on The Green this year, too! They will be using biodegradable plates and cutlery for serving the desserts. These items are made from 100% sugar cane fiber - a byproduct of the sugar refining process -- a material that is virtually unlimited worldwide. They will also be using large biodegradable bags to put all of the refuse in.

"By utilizing only compostable and recyclable serving-ware during the run of 'The Music Man,' we will be stepping up our commitment to maintaining and preserving the lovely atmosphere of the Karen and Jin Gray's farm [the location of the production] for future generations. It is time to take action, and this is a great first, small step," explained YOOH board member Rachel Storlie as to why they are using these eco-friendly products.

The ever-favorite popcorn wagon will once again be popping away serving prior to the show and during intermission. They will also offer Spring Grove Soda Pop. The empty bottles will also be recycled to keep the Green green.


Well-known to the YOOH stage as an actress and director or producer is Kay Capps-Cross. She once again is taking the reigns as director of "The Music Man." She has a large cast that she has been coordinating with practices, choreography, and music perfection. Assisting Capps-Cross as her producers are Mary Deters and Patty McManimon-Moe.

"I am absolutely amazed and impressed with the talent and energy of every single member of the 2011 Music Man cast and crew," remarked Wennes. "Kay Caps-Cross is an awesome director and as usual the Ye Olde Opera House staff, producers, and orchestra members are terrific. I look forward to performing amidst dozens of incredibly talented people to bring some special summer joy to the audiences this July."

Capps-Cross' cast members include: Wennes as Harold Hill, Storlie as Marian Paroo, Sarah Holland as Mrs. Paroo, Devin Nerstad as Winthrop Paroo, Rhiannon Skauge as Amaryllis, Bill Fried as Mayor Shinn, Roxanne Finnesgard as Eulalie Mackecknie Shinn, Rachel Gulbranson as Zaneeta Shinn, Mariah Edgington as Gracie Shinn, Matthew Anderson as Tommy Djilas, Mark Schroeder as Marcellus Washburn, Connie Bublitz as Ethel Toffelmier, Mary Deters as Alma Hix, Missy Bratland as Maud Dunlop, Kristi Anderson as Mrs. Squires, Steve Kemp as Constable Locke/Conductor, and David Storlie as Charlie Cowell. The Quartet includes: Gary Buxengard as Olin Britt, Kevin Anderson as Oliver Hix, Zane Anderson as Jacey Squires, and Joe Morken as Ewart Dunlop.

There are also many children and adult citizens in River City. They are Kimberly Holty, Steve Kemp, Brian Larson, Alisha Solum, Elliott Cross, Kaitlin Bratland, Anna Galloway, Selena Privet, Haley Holty, Noah Myrah, Claire Bratland, Chase Grinde, Corbin Moser, Grace Edgington, Carter Holty, Taylor Holty, Kelsey Bratland, Kaitlyn Vickerman, Mikki Boyd, Brianna Cody, Avery Flatland, Kaitlyn Gross, Emily Guberud, and AJ Wennes.

Attending "The Music Man"

Tickets for "The Music Man" go on sale July 1st and can be reserved by calling (507) 498-JULY (5859) or by following the link on their website, www.yeoldeoperahouse.org. Tickets are $10 for all reserved seats. General admission is $10 for adults, and $5 for children under 18. Benches are available for general admission, or people are welcome to bring their own lawn chairs as well.

Ye Olde Gray Barn is located on one-quarter mile east of Spring Grove right off of Highway 44. Enter the gravel parking lot of Farmers Co-Op Elevator and follow the signs into the field where parking assistants will direct cars to a parking space. If assistance is needed, signal a parking assistant and they will use an electric golf cart to assist people to the ticket booth and seating area.

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