The people of River City are not easily impressed, least of all the town librarian, Marian Paroo, who isn’t so sure about this scheme of his to form a boys’ band to fight the sin and corruption sure to come with that new pool hall opening up in town.
This is the story that forms the foundation of The Music Man, a musical that the Waynesboro Players are opening on Thursday night at 7:30 p.m. at Waynesboro High School.
Directed by Danny Lee, the show stars John Tindall as Harold Hill and Rebecca Hodder as Marian, with familiar faces including David Witt, Tom Pereles and former Waynesboro city manager in the cast.
Tindall is playing the lead male role in The Music Man for the fourth time. He first starred in a production of the musical in high school, and also headlined a Players production of The Music Man in 1995.
“It’s great to be back with the Players,” said Tindall, a community theater veteran who values the camaraderie that develops as actors, directors, producers and the stage crew come together to bring a show to life.
“It very quickly becomes a close-knit group of people. You can use the word family if you want to,” Tindall said. “Everybody is in it together. They buy into it all together, and they commit to it all together. Everybody supports one another. Theater is unlike anything else in that way. The bonds that you create by sharing this experience with people because you’re going to do a show together are something so unique.”
Rebecca Hodder, an eighth-grade language arts teacher at Stuarts Draft Middle School, is playing the role of Marian, a role that she had wanted to take on dating back to her first experience with the Music Man as a middle-schooler herself.
“Marian is this bookish librarian character that people think is stuck up, but I think is just really passionate, and that hit close to home for me,” said Hodder, a graduate of the MLitt/MFA program at Mary Baldwin College in Staunton.
“It’s really easy to make her a stereotypical character. But I find her to be really passionate, a really passionate character, and I like that. And if occasionally she can ponder what makes Shakespeare and Beethoven great, so much the better,” Hodder said.
Lee sees a little bit of Waynesboro in River City, Iowa.
“Choosing to live in a small town like Waynesboro, you have the neighborhood characters here that everyone knows, the people who work in stores that everyone knows. It’s very similar to River City. Everybody knows everybody’s business, and nobody’s afraid to talk about it. I think it reflects Waynesboro well,” said Lee, a member of the Waynesboro Players board of directors.
“I like the simplicity of it, the nostalgia of a different time. But as I worked through it, I realized, there’s so much more here,” Lee said. “The first song is about how the people in this town in Iowa are so stubborn that they don’t want to let anybody in. You can come and stay for a while, but you need to leave. There’s so much of that here in our country right now. We’re having this national discussion about immigration, and there’s definitely a point where you can relate.”
Showtimes are 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday, with a 2 p.m. Sunday matinee.
Tickets are $16 for adults, $8 for students (grades 12 and under).
Purchase your tickets at the door or online at www.waynesboroplayers.org.
One thing about supporting an organization like the Waynesboro Players: it’s all-volunteer.
“No one here gets paid. Actors, directors, producers – we don’t pay the orchestra. It’s all about the love of the art, for the love of the camaraderie, of the thing that we can do together for the community,” Lee said. “For us, we do it because we love bringing this alive for the community. We hope the community will keep coming out because they enjoy seeing it, even if it is something unfamiliar to them, different to them, we hope they keep coming out to support it.”
Story by Chris Graham