‘The Music Man’ brings new ‘phraseology’ to South JordanAug 04, 2022 02:05PM ● By Rachel Aubrey
The Tony Award-winning production of Meredith Wilson’s “The Music Man” was reimagined for the South Jordan and surrounding community July 7 to 13. Sponsored by the South Jordan Arts Council and performed at the South Jordan Community and Senior Center, “The Music Man” tells the story of Professor Harold Hill, a con man who ventures to small town River City, Iowa in 1912 with the intent to charm, persuade, and cheat the residents into joining his youth band, even going as far as to sell them instruments and uniforms.
Playing the role of Professor Hill was Nate Hallet, who despite having five years of experience in musical theater, had never before been cast in the leading role. The father of four first got started in musical theater at the request of his then 12 -year-old daughter.
“I’ve been able to do a handful of productions with that same daughter and absolutely loved it,” Hallet said.
Hallet admitted that of all the scenes, his favorite to perform was act two, scene three entitled “the Paroo Porch” in which Professor Hill and Marian Paroo, played by Amy Garrard, have a “determine the relationship” moment on Marian’s porch. Hallet said that his previous roles leaned more toward a goof-ball type character, and that this scene was outside his normal.
“That was really a lot of fun, and it was kind of a stretch for me,” Hallet said.
Originally from Price, Utah, Amy Garrard was cast in the role of Marian Paroo, a role she had long waited to come her way. Garrard had previously directed “The Music Man” at Murray High School in Fall of 2020.
“I’m glad this was my Marian experience,” Garrard said.
Garrard grew up watching musicals with her family, and her grandfather’s favorite was “The Music Man.” Her favorite scene took place in act one, where Garrard sang “My White Knight” in which Marian Paroo describes what she is looking for in a suitor:
“All I want is a plain man
All I want is a modest man
A quiet man, a gentle man
A straightforward and honest man
To sit with me in a cottage somewhere in the state of Iowa.”
A University of Utah graduate with a degree in choral education, Garrard teaches private vocal lessons from her home in addition to being a mom to her 3-year-old daughter.
Garrard also took on a mentoring role, working with first time performer 9-year-old Ethan Warren, who was cast in the role of Winthrop Paroo, the brother of Marian. In the story, Winthrop Paroo has a lisp and is shy. As the story goes on, Professor Hill spends a lot of time with the young Winthrop and helps him to overcome his speech impediment and social awkwardness.
Garrard said that she would squeeze young Ethan’s hand, whether during rehearsals or during the actual performance, as a way to reassure him. Ethan, who will be a fourth grader at Monte Vista Elementary, said that he was nervous at auditions but that once cast, he had a lot of confidence as all the performers began rehearsing together. Helping to add to that confidence was dad Ryan in his first ever musical theater performance, who was cast as the conductor, constable and farmer.
“I think he [Ethan] was feeling nervous and excited,” said Ethan’s mom Melissa Warren.
Ethan admitted that when he auditioned, he just wanted to be a part of the cast, not knowing he would be cast as such an important character in the story. He said that while this was his first time performing, he has enjoyed musicals before as an audience member. His favorites include “Seussical,” “The Secret Garden” and “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.”
“I love theater,” Ethan said.
Returning to direct the production was Shawn Kidd, who has more than 19 years of musical theater experience. Kidd also directed “The Sound of Music” in 2019 and “Once Upon a Mattress” in 2021 in collaboration with the South Jordan Arts Council. Kidd spend a majority of his directorial tenure in Farmington, New Mexico where he taught choir and theater at the high school level.
“I like directing because I really like seeing how all of it comes together,” Kidd said.
As Professor Hill poignantly said to Marian Paroo while he is trying to encourage her to seize the moment in front of her, “pile up enough tomorrows, and you’ll find you’ve collected nothing but a lot of empty yesterdays…” λ