Mother-son pair Shirley Jones and Patrick Cassidy have more than star power. They embody love and sweetness every moment they stand on stage together. And the special "Till There Was You" duet they sing each night through August 5 at Music Circus – more than enough to leave a few damp eyes in the theater – is only a small portion of the magic these two create next to the beautiful California Musical Theatre summer 2012 cast of "The Music Man."
Jones was pregnant with Cassidy when she filmed the original "Music Man" film. The pair's history with the musical makes the current Music Circus production all the more enjoyable. A few small changes have been made to feature the two, including the short after-show talk and duet. But the MerEdith Wilson musical features a near-perfect script that, unfortunately, leaves Jones with very little stage time. Having originally played Marian the librarian in the film, Jones returns to the musical to play the leading lady's comedic, Irish mother. While her time on stage is short, Jones quickly proves she still has amazing star talent, and she deservedly gets the most applause of each performance before she even has the chance to say her first line.
Jones' son, Broadway performer and brother of classic rock singer David Cassidy, takes on the role of the con man attempting to get those stubborn Iowans to buy into his scheme of a River City Boy's Band. Patrick Cassidy slurs over his words some in songs like "76 Trombones," which are meant to have a crisp, constant rhythm and beat to them, but his energetic acting captivates the audience at every second. In addition to a wonderful singing voice, Cassidy delivers a strong, confident, yet dreamy Harold Hill.
Cassidy stars opposite Brandi Burkhardt as the hard to break local piano teacher Hill tries to woo. Brukhardt possesses a lovely Broadway-caliber voice. Her talents easily equal those of the stars surrounding her for this production. And there's plenty more to be found in the lively chorus and in the unique touches actors bring to their supporting roles.
Carter Thomas (Winthrop) has a gorgeous voice for his young age. The quartet (J.D. Daw, Jack Doyle, Michael Dotson and Joseph Torello) provides a consistent highlight of the show with tight harmonies and humorous bickering. Jason Graae adds plenty of pizzazz to Hill's sidekick, Marcellus. Paula Leggett Chase creates the character of the Mayor's wife anew with a wonderfully distinct take on the comedic character. Kevin Cooney stumbles over his words to the perfect effect as the suspicious and clumsy Mayor Shinn. Ron Wisniski is hilarious as the traveling salesman out to tell everyone the truth about Harold Hill. Diane Vincent brings plenty of character to townswoman Ethel Toffelmier. The rest of the women are spot on in their rendition of the fast paced "Pick-a-Little, Talk-a-Little." And Michael McGurk and Bradley Benjamin are adorable as the Romeo and Juliet pair Tommy and Zaneeta (even if McGurk is a bit old for the role).
Creative choreography and beautiful costumes and sets create a wonderful flow for the Music Circus production. "Music Man" is worth seeing just for its two stars, but a perfect cast and lovely production make Music Circus a very bright star, in itself.
The Music Man
Through August 4