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Great River Road Theatre presents 'The Music Man'

The cast of "The Music Man" poses at Prescott Middle School for a practice on June 28. Great River Road Theatre's performances begin on July 12, 2018, in the Prescott High School Auditorium. Zach Dwyer / RiverTown Multimedia

The Great River Roads Theatre will perform Meredith Willson's "The Music Man" beginning July 12 in the Prescott High School Auditorium.

Judy Johnson has been directing for 25 years with the Great River Road Theatre, and she will be co-directing with Courtney Lamb this year. Lamb has been acting in plays under Johnson's leadership since age 5 and now has her first chance to direct with the Great River Road Theatre.

"We have to do a lot more with less, because it's a nonprofit theater," Lamb said. "It's all volunteer-based, and we have to get creative with costumes and scenery."

Last year brought a big change for the community group, as cast members had their first summer musical indoors in the Prescott High School Auditorium in their 25-year history. Due to problems with unpredictable weather and moving equipment in the past, the decision was made to move on from their outdoor performances.

"Outdoor plays were nice because it gave a feeling of nostalgia and gave a feel of memories of having theater under the stars," Johnson said. "But it got to be so much work and we had to build everything from scratch each year and then haul everything in and out of the buildings. But it was still really fun outside."

Johnson said she hopes that the performances in the auditorium will continue to give audience members some of those same feelings they enjoyed in the past.

"We try to keep our prices down so they bring their families, because above all we want this to be a family thing," Johnson said.

The troupe has actors representing communities from all around the area.

"Every year they tell us it's the best show we've ever done," Johnson said. "I have never let a show go on the stage that I'm ashamed of, and I want that to continue."

Likeable con artist

"The Music Man" focuses on the character of Harold Hill, played by Jim Scheide. Hill is a con man who offers to sell band instruments to a small town, promising how to teach residents to play. Hill plans to leave town before this occurs, but gets caught up after an interest in the local librarian Marian Paroo, played by Katie Fuchs.

"It's a family-oriented play of boy meets girl, girl doesn't like boy, boy really likes girl and boy eventually ends up with her," Johnson said.

Scheide said that even though Hill is a con man, he's a likable character and really good at heart. The musical is a tale of redemption where Hill comes through in the end, gets the girl and gives the townspeople what they want and need.

Lamb added that the musical is based in 1912, which gives it an old-fashioned feel. However, the modern-day romantic storyline comes with some good comedy and few show-stealing supporting characters.

"The Music Man" runs July 12-14 and 19-21 at 7 p.m. in the Prescott High School Auditorium, with Sunday showings on July 15 and 22 at 1 p.m. Tickets are $10 for adults, $5 for ages 6-17 and free for ages 5 and under. Family passes are available for $25 for two adults and two children.

Tickets are available online at www.brownpapertickets.com, at Ptacek's IGA and at the door during the day of the performance. For more information, visit www.greatriverroadtheatre.org.

Zach Dwyer

Zach Dwyer is a senior journalism student at UW-River Falls. He is an intern reporter for RiverTown Multimedia during the summer of 2018 covering features and sports. He was previously a news intern in the summer of 2017 for the Red Wing Republican Eagle. 

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