Archive for October 26th, 2011

by Pat Perry

Is there anyone who doesn’t  love “The Music Man”?

By any reasonable measure, “The Music Man” is one of the most enduring and popular warhorses of Broadway’s Golden Age, one that has permeated all realms of pop culture. The Beatles recorded its eleventh-hour romantic ballad (“Till There Was You”) and even performed it in their first Ed Sullivan Show appearance. Two of its most memorable numbers (“Trouble” and “Shipoopi”) have been lovingly spoofed on “The Simpsons” and “Family Guy” respectively. Even the lyric catchphrase “We’ve got trouble, right here in River City!” has remained in the common parlance for over fifty years.

Few musicals of this vintage are so beloved or so frequently mounted on both amateur and professional stages. But for many, the 1962 film version is their first and most memorable experience of the show, and rightly so. Remarkably faithful to the stage original and featuring a good cross-section of the Broadway cast, the film is the best and most accessible evidence of the qualities that give “The Music Man” its lasting, generation-spanning appeal. (more…)

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Copyright © 2011 by James Clark

    We first encounter the protagonist at home, attending to some business on the phone while looking out his apartment window as evening overtakes towers and groves of the city. On the TV, a basketball game between two of the less storied franchises—the Clippers and the Raptors—is in what could loosely be called progress. Then he is in his car, and damn if he doesn’t have that game on his radio! The LA announcer—perhaps an actor between jobs—gives the fantastical impression that it’s a vital playoff match. That aside, we’re struck by the Driver’s own game face, millions of light years from the Clippers and the Raptors. Now that he’s in the thick of the game he was joining at the window, namely, driving with total indifference a pair of professional thieves from their assignment point to the point of joining the innocents coming from watching the Clippers, we have to pause, first of all, on noticing that the kind of wide-eyed, silent impassivity and, at the same time, expectant strike of his athletic young man’s face and body, while moving at stratospheric speeds in a souped up “Plain Jane” Chevy Impala, and into very sharp turns, stops and pivots, is no different from how he looked when at home. Right from the start, therefore, we’re caught up in a full-court press complicating our understanding of the league (one of the breakaway moves, vis-a-vis police raptors thudding all around, is a cut behind a parked truck, followed by a veer to free space—a kind of pick and roll, in other words) this gamester finds himself occupying. (more…)

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