Summer Theatre of New Canaan's Production of "The Music Man" Brings Crowds to their feet Again

Review by June S. April

There is a special energy to the shows produced by the Libonati Family. Their previously staged entertainment, Shakespeare's "Twelfth Night" was performed under a lovely tent in New Canaan's Irwin Park. It was a charming evening which was cleverly invested with delightful "twists" of music and humor. Their current production, which is only on through July 27 is indoors, in the air-conditioned Rich Forum in Stamford. "The Music Man" bubbles over with that same energy and creative originality. The cast of about two dozen ranges from children of about 5 or 6 to some well-seasoned actors.

Director Melody Libonati's insights were visually enhanced by the choreographic talents of Doug Shankman. Having such a range of ages and ability can be a great achievement or mayhem. From the standing ovation, there was no question of the triumphant success of this classic musical. This is truly an experience to be shared by families and the melodies hummed by departing audiences. What more rousing song is there than "76 Trombones?"

There are also moral issues that come-up in this play: timeless concerns dealing with accountability; the relevance of music to building character and uniting people, and not giving credence to gossip.

A live orchestra (of a dozen musicians) under the baton of Scott Cranston in co-operation with Music Director Frank Martignetti, produced a bright sound and a sterling performance. Scenic Designer Bill Forester transformed the locations from train, to interiors of homes, a library and auditorium with artistry and credibility. Small town Iowa was there for all to see. Joel Silver's lighting skills enhanced the mood of different scenes and locales and added depth, in a literal way to this musical.

"The Music Man" is one of those experiences that "creates" a theatre audience. Like "Peter Pan," another classic that has timeless appeal to all ages, it successfully knits together a wonderful story with beautiful music and great lyrics.

Summer Theatre of New Canaan's Artistic Director Melody Libonati, noted in the program that their choice for doing this show is that this is also a larger celebration; it is the Anniversary of "The Music Man." Fifty years ago it won the Tony Award, over "West Side Story, " for the Best Musical.

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