CONTACT: WINSTON BARCLAY
300 Plaza Centre One
Iowa City IA 52242
(319) 384-0073; fax (319) 384-0024
Release: Nov. 15, 2001
'The Music Man,' Meredith Willson's valentine to small-town Iowa, comes
to UI Dec. 4-9
CITY, Iowa -- The Broadway revival of "The Music Man," Mason City
native Meredith Willson's musical valentine to small-town Iowa and his tribute
to the redemptive power of love, will come to the University of Iowa Hancher
Auditorium for eight holiday-season performances -- at 8 p.m. Tuesday through
Friday, Dec. 4-7, and at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 8 and
"The Music Man" is filled with characters and music that have
become fixtures of American culture: endearing con man "Professor"
Harold Hill, Marian the Librarian, "Gary, Indiana," "76 Trombones,"
"The Wells Fargo Wagon," "Trouble," "Lida Rose,"
"Goodnight, My Someone," "Pick-a-little, Talk-a-little"
and "Till There Was You."
The original 1957 Broadway production -- greeted by the New York Times as
"American as apple pie and a Fourth of July oration. . . . a marvelous
show, rooted in wholesome and comic tradition." -- ran nearly 1,400 performances
and boosted Robert Preston to stardom.
Preston reprised his signature role in the 1962 film version -- also starring
Shirley Jones, Buddy Hackett, Ron Howard, Paul Ford and Hermione Gingold --
which premiered in Mason City and became a world-wide hit.
Tony Award-winning director and choreographer Susan Stroman -- who now has
Broadway's biggest hit, "The Producers" -- created the Broadway
revival of "The Music Man," inspiring the new touring production.
USA Today gave the new "The Music Man" four stars, proclaiming,
"It would be hard to imagine a production more spectacular! An entertaining,
heartwarming evening of theater that will seduce audiences of all ages and
sensibilities just as handily as Harold Hill seduces the denizens of River
In a review headlined, "Touring 'Music Man' is a humdinger," Warren
Gerds wrote for the Green Bay Press-Gazette: "It's bright, rousing, tuneful,
patriotic, loving -- all the expected charms.
"A quiet star adds distinction. The thing flows. One scene folds into
the next with masterful scene changes. One minute we're in the middle of River
City, Iowa, with a billiard hall on one side of the street, the library on
the other and a historical statue in the middle. The next minute all that
slips away and out rolls a cutaway house where 'Marian the Librarian' gives
a piano lesson. . . . Talk about wonderful moments . . ."
Willson (1902-1984) did not attend the UI, but he will always be closely
associated with this other "River City" because he wrote "The
Iowa Fight Song" as a gift to the university in 1950 -- part of his lifelong
affection for his home state. Willson also donated a collection of his papers
to the UI Libraries, where they are now part of the Special Collections.
While he is now remembered primarily for his Broadway triumphs -- "The
Music Man" and "The Unsinkable Molly Brown" -- Willson was
already a "household name" before he penned those hit musicals.
After piccolo/flute stints with the Sousa band and the New York Philharmonic,
Willson became a musical director for NBC, and was a regular on many of the
most popular radio programs of the late '30s and '40s. He also scored motion
pictures, and was twice nominated for the Academy Award for his film scores
-- "The Great Dictator" and "The Little Foxes."
During World War II his celebrity was put to good use as director of the
music division of Armed Forces Radio.
After the war he returned to radio, and expanded his career into the new
medium of television. The premiere "The Meredith Willson Show" in
1949 testifies to the power of his celebrity at a time when the long development
of his script and score of "The Music Man" was just beginning. Later,
his autobiography, "And There I Stood with My Piccolo," became a
Nearly every song in "The Music Man" has become an instantly recognizable
evergreen, but Willson also wrote other classics, including "It's Beginning
to Look Like Christmas," "You and I" and "May the Good
Lord Bless and Keep You." Willson was still on the pop charts in the
1960s, when the Beatles had a hit with his "Till There Was You"
Mason City is now preparing to celebrate the centennial of Willson's birth
Wells Fargo is the corporate sponsor of the "Music Man" performances
through the University of Iowa Foundation, with media support from the Iowa
Tickets are $45, $42.50 and $40. UI students and senior citizens qualify
for a 20-percent discount, and tickets for audience members 17 and younger
are half price.
Hancher Auditorium box office business hours are 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m. weekdays
and 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturdays. From the local calling area, dial (319) 335-1160.
Long distance is toll-free, 1-800-HANCHER. Fax to (319) 353-2284. People with
special needs for access, seating and auxiliary services should dial (319)
335-1158, which is equipped with TDD for people with hearing impairment who
use that technology.
Tickets may be ordered on-line 24 hours a day, seven days a week through
Orders may be charged to VISA, MasterCard or American Express. UI students
may charge their purchases to their university bills, and UI faculty and staff
may select the option of payroll deduction. Information and brochures may
be requested by e-mail: <firstname.lastname@example.org>.
Visit the production's website at <http://www.themusicmanbroadway.com>.
For UI arts information and calendar updates, visit <www.uiowa.edu/artsiowa>.
To receive UI arts news by e-mail, contact <email@example.com>.