BRENTWOOD -- "Professor" Harold Hill again will stroll into River City ready to work his con onto its unsuspecting citizen as Brentwood Theater Company and Broadway Under the Stars present the always-popular musical, "The Music Man," at the Allan E. Jones Performing Arts Center on the campus of Liberty High School.
For three weekends, July 18 to Aug. 2, audiences will follow the fast-talking salesman as he attempts to sell uniforms and instruments for a nonexistent band, and once again the promise of love from Marian the librarian will transform him into a respectable man.
This fast-paced musical loaded with fun dances and songs, including favorites "Seventy Six Trombones," "Trouble" and "Till There was You," is a family favorite and a great introduction to live theater for the younger generation.
Each year producer Jack Gaughan and director Steve Kinsella work their magic to bring professional quality live theater to East County and beyond.
"Our goals are to raise the bar every year -- to get better productions and bigger shows," Gaughan said. "Every year we're trying to get better at what we do."
"The Music Man," beyond its popular appeal, great music and large cast, appealed to Kinsella for the message it conveys.
"In all the shows I write and direct I look for those that have a pivotal character that rises above the circumstances," he said. "In this case the circumstance is for Harold Hill to get out of town with all his money, but it's love that keeps him there to face the music."
The musical also lends itself to wide community participation because of the wide range of ages of the cast, with actors in this production from 8 to 78 years.
Shellie award-winning Richard Howarter is playing Harold Hill and Shelley McDowell is Marian the librarian, along with Helen Dixon as Eulalie Mackecknie Shinn, Billy Flannery as Will Parker, Robin Furseth as Ado Annie, Brandon Passion as Curly and Jillian Butler as Laure as just some of the cast of 52.
Five of the cast represent three generations of the same family: grandparents Curtis and Susan Stuttevile, their daughter Heather Cannon and her two sons Luke and Noah, with Luke playing Winthrop.
"We're also very lucky in securing the Delta Dons Quartet who are a show highlight," Kinsella said. "They sing marvelously and have really enhanced the quality of the production."
Kinsella notes that the enthusiasm of the cast, many of whom specifically wanted to perform in "The Music Man," and the wide exposure for the ensemble, which has a full evening of dancing, singing and costume changes, has created a performance that rises high above the sum of the individual parts. The fact that several of the cast have returned to the stage after many years also creates a family-like feel around the show.
"We've been very lucky to find people in and around East County that have a passion for being in this particular show so the story is being told exceptionally well," Kinsella said.
Broadway Under the Stars has been very well-received by East County communities and beyond for the quality of its performances and its proximity to the area.
"We bring live theater to a community that is starved for great entertainment because there's no theater here and we try our best to provide the kind of entertainment they're looking for," Gaughan said.
Brentwood Theater Company and Brentwood Under the Starsalso offer a chance for community participation, on and behind the scene. Being a 501C3 nonprofit means everything goes back into the organization, either into productions, classes or scholarships, thus continuing to build on a model that's appealing to a large portion of the community.
As director, Kinsella set the standard the first day the cast came together, a celebration of music and storytelling, of moving forward, much like a family, to achieve artistic goals. This standard shows in the production of "The Music Man," so now it's up to the community support this effort and guarantee that the show will go on.
"THE MUSIC MAN"
Weekends through Aug. 2: 7:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays; 2 p.m. Sundays
Where: Allan E. Jones Performing Arts Center, Liberty High School, 850 Second St., Brentwood.
Tickets: adults, $24; seniors 65 and above $22; teens $16; children, 6-12, $8. Tickets are available on line at the brentwoodtheater.org, or at The Delta Gallery of the Arts, 2485 Sand Creek Road, 925-516-5936. All seats reserved.