The ultimate illusion

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, July 14, 2010

By David Vitrano


RESERVE – “The Music Man,” which first became a hit on Broadway in 1957, is an ambitious production for any theater company to take on, but even more so for a small community theater such as St. John Theatre.

Nevertheless, Darryl Clement, the director of the majority of the theater’s productions, has tackled the show with gusto and promised, “You’ll walk out singing the songs.”

In taking on “the Music Man” Clement had a number of obstacles to overcome. The theater’s summer workshops for children greatly abbreviated the time he has had to pull the show together.

“The children’s projects sandwiched us in,” he said.

Further complicating matters is that because of the enormous cast, many of the actors have little to no stage experience, so Clement said he had to start from scratch in teaching some of them the basics of live theater.

Also, the production can be quite intricate with numerous set changes and elements uncommon to many of the theater’s other productions. For instance, the show calls for a barbershop quartet — not an easy find in 2010. Clement said after he could only find three people to fill the roles, he decided to take over the fourth part himself.

Because of the unique quality of the element, however, Clement said, “It’s going to be one of the highlights of the show, I think.”

Although the time constraints and size of the show pushed the theater to its limits — “We’re at max,” said Clement — the colorful costumes and lively musical numbers are can’t-miss factors when it comes to entertainment value.

“I think it’s going to be a really enjoyable show. It’s going to be a really good looking show,” he said.

The plot of the show centers on Harold Hill, a traveling con man who stops in River City, Iowa, to sell the townspeople on the concept of having a boys’ marching band and then sell them uniforms and instruments before making off with their money.

It stars Lance Ural as Hill and features a cast of dozens, including quite a few family members — a fact not lost on Clement.

“One of the reasons we chose ‘Music Man’ is because we wanted this to be a place where families could come together,” he said.

“Music Man” premieres Friday and runs through Sunday, then takes a short break before resuming to finish its run from July 21 through 24. All shows begin at 7:30 p.m. with the exception of the matinee on July 18 at 2:30 p.m. Tickets are available at Allied Express in LaPlace or at the theater box office starting 30 minutes before each show.

St. John Theatre is located at 115 W. Fourth St. in Reserve. Visit for more information.