Community effort goes into Twinsburg Community Theatre's 'Music Man'

by April Helms special products editor Published:

Jeff Sayoc from Twinsburg Township said that while his children Grant and Jillian had been involved with previous shows with the Twinsburg Community Theatre, he himself never took part in a full-scale stage production before. That changed when he decided to audition, along with his children, for the theater's production of "The Music Man," which opened Jan. 25 and runs through Feb. 10.

"I did musical showcases 25 years ago in high school," he said. "My kids have been in [Twinsburg Community Theatre] for two years, and I decided this year I would do it. It's a bucket list sort of thing."

Sayoc was cast as Marcellus Washburn, the friend of the show's "music man" Harold Hill (played by Michael A. Turle.) He said he enjoyed his experience working on the musical, liking "the camaraderie and getting to know the people in the community."

There were many opportunities to meet people from the community with this production of "The Music Man": There were 166 cast members, plus about 20 crew members, working together on the production, said Shonna Talley Nitzel, artistic director.

"We have a great bunch of people," Nitzel said. "We have a ball. We try to get as many people involved as we can."

There are many families who are involved with the production, Nitzel said.

"We have two families with five people involved, and three families have four," she said. "Nobody gets left at home. Even if they are not onstage, they are often helping backstage on the set, or passing out programs."

The musical centers on the previously mentioned Harold Hill, a con man who has traveled around the country selling phony dreams. Currently, he sells the idea of boys' bands, with instruments, uniforms and instruction books. He makes a stop in a small Iowa town to ply his trade, where he runs into his friend Marcellus, who helps Hill with his sales pitch. Hill manages to hoodwink most of the town's stuffy citizenry with his ideas, but he runs into resistance from the town's librarian and music teacher, Marian Paroo (played by Jenna Elmore). When Hill does wind up winning her heart, he finds he has lost his own heart to the librarian.

Other cast members include Dennis Burby as the blustering Mayor Shinn, Ann Nyehuis as his wife Eulalie Mackecknie Shinn; and Sally Morris as Mrs. Paroo (on opening weekend; Eve Phythyon also plays the role at certain shows). Sam Gielink, Shawn McCormick and Griffin Willmott play Marian's younger brother Winthrop Paroo on different weekends. Mallory Mentzer, Ella Murray and Olivia Sharp play Amaryllis on different weekends. Ian Lawrence, Justin Roth and Michael Senvisky play Tommy Djilas on different weekends. Grace Bolinger, Hope Bolinger and Adrianna DeFabio play Zaneeta Shinn on different weekends. Mark Durbin plays Charlie Cowell, the salesman out to get Harold Hill. Dave Blanchard, Ed Kijaukis, Matt Onion and Todd Rosenthal play the school board members turned barbershop quartet.

Nitzel said there were more than 500 costumes for the show, which is set in 1912.

"I made a lot of them, we rented some and we have a lot sewers who helped," she said. "I started in the summertime."

One of the biggest challenges of the show, Nitzel said, was conveying the mores and history of the turn of the 20th century.

"One of the most challenging things was letting the girls know that women had to wear a long dress or skirt," she said. "Women also had long hair, they did not have short hair then unless they had been ill, which led to a scramble sometimes to find wigs and hair pieces. Women also always wore a hat and gloves when they were out in the public. Boys didn't wear long pants until they hit puberty. They wore knickerbockers."

Many of the terms and phrases may not be familiar to today's audience, either, although the theater includes a list of terms and phrases -- along with a definition -- of many things mentioned throughout the show in its program.

The lasting appeal of the show is the music, Nitzel said.

"The music still translates well," she said. "In some shows, the music gets dated but the audience can still enjoy this show after all these years."

Tickets are $9 advance and $10 at the door. Call 330-405-5757 or visit www.twinsburgrecreation.com for information and tickets.

The shows are staged in the Twinsburg High School auditorium. The high school is at 10084 Ravenna Road in Twinsburg.

Email: ahelms@recordpub.com

Phone: 330-541-9438

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