Written by Main Street Member Robert Gitterman
Last weekend, I went to The Music Man at the Olney Theatre with Main Street. It was fantastic and well done with the blended spoken English and American Sign. I thought it was as good or better than the current ongoing Broadway revival.
The performance at Olney Theatre was all captioned because there were some parts by deaf actors that weren’t voiced and only voiced when singing. As you are probably thinking, how could they do this? I saw the deaf actor in the middle of the stage and they usually had a hearing person in the corner of the stage so they could have the deaf person signing and then still have the music like a typical production. It was pretty cool that there were parts that were spoken and captioned for people who didn’t know sign. So it was accessible for all. There was a mix between the leads Harold Hill and Marian Paroo. Harold Hill was played by a deaf actor and Marian was played by someone who was hearing and went to Walter Johnson High School in Bethesda.
Before the global pandemic hit, my family was given tickets to see The Music Man with Hugh Jackman and Sutton Foster at the Winter Garden Theater in New York City. I went during the last week of previews which meant the press would not seen it until it was officially opened later that week. The theater was a lot bigger than the Olney Theatre, and the staging was a little different on Broadway. It was a lot bigger and it had a lot more dancing in the NY production. As for the acting, it was so cool to see Hugh Jackman as Harold Hill. Sometimes big name stars like Jackman can be a big draw but it might be a box office motive and take a role and do a subpar performance to get a big draw. He played it a little too nice and the role is sort of a conman where he tries to get a boys band in the town. The actor at the Olney Theatre played the role with a bit more of conman and was more true to the story instead of having a big flashy name do it.
Finally, I saw a semi-staged version of The Music Man in Washington, DC, at the Kennedy Center in 2019. It had some big names and lesser known people. The leads in this production were Norm Lewis and Jessie Mueller. I would say this production was a blend between the Broadway revival and Olney. A cool thing about this production was, at the end, they had the Mighty Sound of Maryland unknowingly come in and participate in the finale. This provided a great chance for college students to play in a production that was professionally done and it gave the audience something to remember.