Review: ‘Music Man’ successful on all notes

By Andre Harrell II
Staff writer

Meridith Wilson’s “The Music Man,” hosted by the University of West Florida’s Department of Theater, opened Thursday in the Mainstage Theater, at the Center for Fine and Performing Arts. 

From start to finish, actors and actresses provided a jaw-dropping, remarkable show for a nearly sold-out audience. Sunday night’s performers were professional, comical and entertaining to watch from beginning to end.

The parting of the curtains revealed a beautiful set by designer Charles Houghton, allowing audience members a chance to feel included in the storyline. Not only did the set wow you, but the costumes and makeup by Glenn Avery Breed and Hannah Heirs captured the time period with excellence, giving a sense of life in the early 1900’s.

Actor Ben Bailey, who portrays the fast-talking salesman Harold Hill, kept the audience engaged using humor and his musical abilities. With every scene, one could tell that his strong stage presence and confidence was something that he’s invested time and effort into developing. Talent like Ben Baileys is very far and few.

This production included a live band that enhanced the solos and live singing in the show, which is rare. Often times, you may get a great live band paired with average actors, or great actors with an average live band — this show includes both superb acting and live music, that the audience enjoyed.

Within the first five minutes, the time and effort that the Department of Theater had invested into this production was evident. 

“Years ago, when I attended this school, the art department wasn’t what it is today,” Tom McAllister, a UWF alumni student, said. “I wonder how much time it took for them to prepare for this show.”

From the looks of everything, I was willing to bet it was a lot longer than the amount of time I put into preparing for my history exams. A play of that magnitude doesn’t just come together overnight or within the five minutes before curtain call.

Aside from the wonderful set designs and wardrobe, the singing blew me away. At one point in the show, I found myself checking the program to reassure myself that I was at a play and not a chorus concert.

In some musicals, the acting or the singing can be hit or miss; however, this cast had mastered both. Their chemistry on stage complemented each other so well, I believe they’re all somehow related in real life, and I’ll definitely hold a grudge if I don’t receive a Christmas card this year.

Attending a play of this caliber is an experience that everyone deserves to have. The Department of Theater will be presenting an encore of The Music Man at 7:30 p.m. Feb. 23-24, and at 2:30 p.m. Feb. 25 in the Mainstage Theater at the Center for Fine and Performing Arts, Building 82, on the Pensacola campus.

For tickets and information, call the CFPA Box Office at 857-6285 or visit their website. Tickets are $18 for adults, $14 for seniors/activee military, $12 for non-UWF students and $6 for youth (18 and under). UWF students get in free with a valid Nautilus Card.