All reviews are written by Cappies student critics and edited by Cappies adult mentors prior to publishing.

Gavin Moore, a student at Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology , reviews Annandale High School’s ‘The Music Man’as part of the Cappies Critics and Awards Program.

A smooth-talking salesman wanders into town one day, offering to start up a band for the citizens. No one would suspect, especially upon learning the man’s intentions are far more dishonest than he lets on, that his actions would change every individual in the town for the better. In Annandale High School’s production of The Music Man, the audience saw this charming story of love and laughter brought to life for a wonderful night of hilarity and romance.

The Music Man, written and composed by Meredith Willson, was first performed on Broadway in 1957 and became an instant critical and monetary success, winning five Tony Awards. The story portrays a travelling con man, Harold Hill, as he arrives in a small Iowa town pretending to be a musician and bandleader. In reality, Hill has no musical talent and has arrived solely to make money off of the excited townspeople via the sales of over-priced band instruments and uniforms.

James Barker assumed the persona of “Professor” Harold Hill, imbuing his portrayal of the character with a captivating stage presence and a wide range of facial expressions. Barker’s vocals were always consistent, and his superb comedic timing garnered uproarious laughter from the audience. Marian Paroo, the town’s librarian, was played by Gabi Montes de Oca, whose skillful performance highlighted the changes in Marian’s behavior and feelings throughout the show. Coupled with a powerful chemistry between Montes de Oca and Barker, particularly in numbers such as “Till There Was You,” the two leads served as the foundation for the rest of the show.

Several supporting characters stood out from amongst the ensemble, bringing additional fervor to the production. Annie Stout portrayed Mrs. Paroo, Marian’s hilarious mother, with attention to every aspect of the character, carefully making sure that her thick Irish accent was consistent throughout the show. Tommy Djilas, the town’s “wild child,” was portrayed by Xavier Felix, whose varying expressions and physicality clearly depicted the changes in character brought about by Hill. Though an easy-to-overlook role, William Rangel Cardozo displayed admirable attentiveness as the conductor of the train, setting the mood for the entire show.

Perhaps one of strongest aspects of this production was the performance of four individuals, Leif Jomuad, David Furney, Steve Aderton and Michael McLean, as the town’s school board members and resident barbershop quartet. The vocal prowess of the four talented actors was phenomenal, and songs such as “Lida Rose & Will I Ever Tell You” were brilliantly executed. The quartet’s talent did not stop with just vocals; the comedic chemistry between the four was impeccable and made the actors stand out as individuals and a cohesive unit.

The show was accompanied by an impressive live band, which was involved beyond just playing songs; they provided several sound effects and even appeared onstage as part of Hill’s scheme. Choreography was artistically executed and implemented, especially in numbers such as “Train Opening” and “Marian the Librarian.” Elaborate costumes visually conveyed the change in attitude of the denizens of the town as the show progressed, beginning with more subdued colors and transforming into more vibrant hues in the second act.

When it first opened on Broadway, The Music Man captured the hearts of Americans young and old due to its captivating score and heartwarming story. With strong vocals, skillful acting and a wonderfully engaged ensemble, the cast and crew of Annandale

High School’s production reminded us why The Music Man continues to amaze and inspire people across the nation and has found itself as a classic staple of American musical theater.