May River Theatre Presents The Music Man
Author: Beth Woods | Photographer: Photography by Anne
“Seventy-Six Trombones” are leading the May River Theatre into its 50th show, The Music Man. After 12 seasons at the Ulmer Auditorium, this community theatre has become a part of the “Bluffton State of Mind” and its history.
The family-friendly musical is set in the town of River City, where a con man named Harold Hill tries to scam the town folk into buying musical instruments to create a boys marching band. Hill loses his focus when he falls for Marian, the town librarian, and the story begins to unfold. Humor and musical production numbers propel the action as cast members sing and dance through small town Iowa in the early 20th century.
May River Theatre originally staged The Music Man in 2004 and is pleased to have some of the original cast members return to the new production. This is a true community theatre production with cast members ranging in age from seven to 70. Daniel Cort, a May River veteran will revive his role as Harold Hill.
“Being a part of this show has been special on so many levels. It’s just a great show with an amazing cast, and we are ecstatic to present this musical experience to our community for a second time,” Cort said. “This production is a family affair. Watching brothers and sisters, fathers and mothers, husbands and wives perform together is truly magical. The audience will be able to identify with the love we have for one another, which adds further dimension and depth to any show.”
Mayor Shinn (Pat Morgan) and Eulalie Mackecknie Shinn (Barbara Clark), River City “Royalty”
Haigler Woods plays Zaneeta, and at age 16, this is her first performance with The May River Theatre. “I came to see Mr. Daniel and my mom perform in the first show at this theatre when I was only three, and now, 13 years later, I am so excited to be a part of such a great community production,” Woods said.
The large cast is supported by the amazing direction of Debbie Cort and dynamic musical direction of Bill and Betsy Peterson. Barbara Clark, another theatre veteran, plays Eulalie Mackecknie Shinn.
River City’s Librarian, Marian Paroo (Megan Lamont) builds the confidence in her misfit brother Winthrop Paroo (John Rosenblum)
Clark said, “The theatre family is a strong unit with almost a company feel. Anyone who auditions and is cast soon becomes part of the family and is welcomed with open arms.”
The stage at the Ulmer Auditorium was recently dedicated to Jodie Dupuis, the late director, choreographer and co-founder of the May River Theatre. The Town of Bluffton commemorated Dupuis’ creative contributions by placing a plaque in her honor directly on the stage used by the community theatre she loved. Without the tireless work of Dupuis and her husband Ed, the May River Theatre would never have reached this milestone of 50 shows.
Michael Weaver, who plays Charlie Cowell, puts this 50th production in perspective.
“We want to keep the momentum going after an outstanding Annie,” he said. “These are our first shows from scratch after losing our dear Jodie. We want to carry on in style. May River Theatre is a huge piece of the stage scene here. We see visitors, residents, and regulars every time the house lights go up, so we know May River Theatre means as much to the community as is does to us.”
Ron Ruckle has been a part of the ensemble as well as the technical crew. “I came to The May River Theatre only a couple years ago, but my experiences will always be with me and my family,” he said. “Jodie Dupuis opened the door for a nut like me with open arms and an open heart. She nurtured the creative spirit in people. Her legacy lives on in the commitment, dedication, and talent of the people she left to care for this awesome theatre.”
Alma Hix (Donna Capps), Eulalie Mackecknie Shinn (Barbara Clark) and Ethel Toffelmier (Brittany Horlbeck), just a few of the Pick-a-Little Ladies
Erin Laytham Lentz and her five children are all in the cast of The Music Man. “This is my second production with The May River Theatre and it has been such an enriching experience for myself and my children to experience the arts, share the stage with a talented ensemble, and bring some Broadway to Bluffton,” she said.
Con Man Harold Hill (Daniel Cort) welcomes the assistance of loyal sidekick, Marcellus Washburn (Tim Moore)
This little theatre is big in the hearts of the actors who have shared the stage and those who have shown support. (Ticket sales and donations keep the theatre in operation.) Make plans now to go to the Ulmer Auditorium and the Jodie Dupuis Stage and help commemorate this milestone 50th show, The Music Man.