Alma College Theatre opens its 2019-20 performance season with Meredith Willson’s award-winning musical, “The Music Man.”
Performance times are Thursday, Oct. 17 through Saturday, Oct. 19 at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, Oct. 20 at 2:30 p.m. in the Remick Heritage Center, Presbyterian Hall. Tickets are $15 for adults, $5 for seniors 62-plus, and free for Alma College staff, students, and youth 18 and under. Seating is reserved. For ticket information, call (989) 463-7304.
First produced on Broadway in 1957, “The Music Man” follows the story of con man Harold Hill as he tries to sell marching band instruments and uniforms to the small-town residents of River City, Iowa. He promises to teach the group to play despite knowing nothing about music. Hill wishes to leave town as soon as he receives the money; however, his plan is called into question as he develops feelings for the town librarian, Marian Paroo.
“I love this show,” says Scott Mackenzie, director and department chair of Theatre and Dance. “I have since I was a kid. It just makes me happy. I get so excited when the ensemble comes together and does such wonderful renditions of the songs that I remember from growing up listening to the album.”
Sasha Dudock, an Alma College junior from Davison, performs a leading role as librarian Marian Paroo. Previously, she acted as Marcy Park in “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee” her freshman year.
“I am thrilled to be a part of this show,” says Dudock. “I love the music. It’s all very fun, upbeat and old-fashioned. With any performance, the build-up to opening night is always stressful, but rehearsals are honestly the best part of my day. It’s such a kind and talented group of people, and I’m so glad I get to perform with them.”
The theatre reached out to the community to fill several spots. There are three Alma elementary students, eight local middle and high school students, and four additional adults. Of the four, three are Alma College employees, including Beth Jachimiak, Stephany Slaughter and William Gorton.
“Because ‘The Music Man’ is a classic audience favorite that requires a large cast, it gave us a chance to invite community members to be part of the company,” says Mackenzie. “I am hoping that we can establish a good town/gown tradition for the future as we plan to produce large musicals every other year.
“This is a play that really brings theatre folks together because it has been popular for so long,” says Mackenzie. “If an actor hasn’t actually been in it, he definitely knows someone who has and has probably seen their friends in it.”
The play will feature a sizable set designed by Terry Jachimiak.
“We only have a five-week rehearsal period, so we are feeling very rushed with both the rehearsals and the build,” says Mackenzie. “Like any musical, there are more moving parts than a straight show. Scheduling choreography time as well as singing time, and of course working on the scenes, is a big challenge especially giving the time limitations.”
The musical will feature songs such as “76 Trombones,” “Ya Got Trouble,” “Good Night, My Someone” and more. Sue Mackenzie is the music director, and the pit orchestra will be under the direction of Jonathan Spatola-Knoll, visiting assistant professor.
Alma College student actors include:
- Merek Alam, Davison senior
- Annabelle Avolio, Grand Rapids first-year student
- Danny Barr, Troy sophomore
- Jacob Bendele, St. Johns senior
- Rachel Blome, Indian River senior
- Jarrett Buikema, Rochester Hills junior
- Lauren Dempz, Berlin sophomore
- Sasha Dudock, Davison senior
- Carlos Cervera, Wabash, Ind., sophomore
- Dan Chalice, Fennville junior
- Carly Christie, Bay City junior
- Conner Garma, West Branch senior
- Ella Markel, Hamburg Township first-year student
- Bobby McCarthy, China Spring, Texas, junior
- Mike Oliver, Byfield, Mass., junior
- Elizabeth Pechota, Cadillac sophomore
- Raul Rivera, Traverse City sophomore
- Greysen Tomlinson, Zeeland first-year student