The Music Man
26th April - 1st May 2004
Photographs by John Tustin
Production Officials
Director Nora Howcroft
Musical Director Marjorie Hough
Harold Hill Paul Hancox
Marian Paroo Eileen Taylor
Mrs Paroo Yvonne Neary
Winthrop Paroo Joel Cheetham
Mayor Shinn Don Fairclough
Eulalie Shinn Joyce Walters
Tommy Djilas Jamie Fletcher
Zaneeta Shinn Charlie Bradburn
Gracie Shinn Sarah Bailey
Amaryllis Sammie Banks
Charlie Cowell Roger Higginbottom
Conductor Mike Taylor
Ewart Dunop Ron Finney
Oliver Hix David Reeves
Jacey Squires Ross Dunning
Olin Britt Robin Foster
Marcellus Washburn David Witt
Alma Hix Janet Witt
Maud Dunlop Jean Maden
Ethel Toffelmier Vicki Wilson
Mrs Squires Hazel Gray
Constable Locke Mike Bailey
Travelling Salesmen Mike Bailey, Alan Hitchen, Eddie Williams
River City Townspeople
Emma Baron, Jane Bickerstaffe, Alison Buckthorpe, Catherine Dunning, Lucy Finney, Michelle Foster, Harry Lee, Barbara Martin, Gill Pollitt, Ruth Prescott, Mary Pycroft, Rose Roberts, Helen Savage, Bess Williams
River City Children
Harriet Bradburn, Hannah Clarkson, Beth Corrigan, Emma Cunningham, Michael Kelly, Stephen Lim, Zoe Pollitt, Laur Rushton, Beth Seddon
  • Harold Hill "76 Trombones" Harold Hill "76 Trombones"
  • Harold and Marian Paroo Harold and Marian Paroo
  • Mrs Paroo, Amaryllis and Winthrop Mrs Paroo, Amaryllis and Winthrop
  • Mayor Shinn Mayor Shinn
  • Amaryllis and Marian Amaryllis and Marian
  • Marcellus and Harold Marcellus and Harold
  • The Barbershop Quartet The Barbershop Quartet
  • Charlie Cowell, Winthrop and Marian Charlie Cowell, Winthrop and Marian
  • Children and Marian Children and Marian
  • Harold, Winthrop, Marian and Townsfolk Harold, Winthrop, Marian and Townsfolk
  • Mayor and Eulalie Shinn and Marian Mayor and Eulalie Shinn and Marian
  • The BArbershop Quartet and Harold The BArbershop Quartet and Harold
  • The River City Band The River City Band
  • Townsfolk Townsfolk
  • Barbershop Quartet Barbershop Quartet
  • River City Band River City Band
  • The Company The Company

  • Bolton Evening News Review
  • NODA North West News Review
After opening just before Christmas in 1957, The Music Man exploded with life and colour, catapulting author Meredith Willson to the forefront of American musical theatre.

The catchy, heart-warming tale of Harold Hill, the conman who finds love and redemption in small-town Iowa, is given a splendid treatment here by Director Nora Howcroft and Musical Director Marjorie Hough.

It is still, though, a technically challenging piece for musical actors, and how fortunate that we have two as accomplished as Paul Hancox and Eileen Taylor in the leads. As well as displaying energy and humour, Hancox (Harold Hill) tackles the pacy, lyric-packed Ya Got Trouble and 76 Trombones with consummate skill.

Likewise Ms Taylor, who was so impressive in White Horse Inn. As the exacting, buttoned Marian, her sensitive delivery of My White Knight is a treasure, and their duets are some of the best I've heard this year.

There is sterling support from Yvonne Neary, Don Fairclough, Joyce Walters and David Witt, and a large younger contingent impresses too. Jamie Fletcher, Charlie Bradburn, Sarah Bailey and Samantha Banks all excel, and Joel Cheetham (Winthrop), with a cracking rendition of Gary Indiana, is certainly a name to watch.

A fantastic chorus and orchestra drive the vibrant tableaux and numbers such as Shipoopi energised an enthusiastic audience. Walmsley Church is a huge building but this marvellous company still raised the roof.

Nigel McFarlane
I never thought for one moment that I would be in the position to have to report the following. Having been a member of the society myself during the late 60s and having seen practically every show since, I have always marvelled at the ingenuity and expertise of the backstage staff to present brilliant scenery within the confine of a limited stage area. Not so this time. I will draw a veil over further comment other than to say that there seemed to be precious little room for the chorus, resulting in restricted movement, and pauses in the proceedings which seemed like an eternity, taking the gloss off what would otherwise have been a decent production.

Of the principals Paul Hancox was an energetic Harold Hill. He coped well with the pacy patter numbers and generally this was a good performance. Don Fairclough was excellent as the blustering Mayor Shinn whilst Ron Finney (Ewart Dunlop), David Reeves (Oliver Hix), Ross Dunning (Jacey Squires) and Robin Foster (Olin Britt) formed the tuneful quartet of city fathers.

Complementary support came from David Witt as Marcellus Washburn and an excellent debut by Joel Cheetham as Winthrop Paroo. Eileen Taylor sang well as the city librarian Marion whilst Yvonne Neary was well in character as Mrs Paroo. Marjorie Hough's orchestra did full justice to the lively musical score but the production lacked the usual polish. One hopes this was merely a hiccup in the long tradition of excellent shows from this society.

Glyn Neary

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