Celebrating with The Music Man BATS are celebrating their golden jubilee with The Music Man, a lively and amusing story following the very slippery Professor Harold Hill. After conning each town he has visited, Hill arrives at River City, Iowa, to play the same pitch; creating a children's music band uniform, brass an' all - but fated never to play a note.
Ray Jeffery returned as director and choreographer for BATS' 50th year and again achieved a visual spectacle and brought much from the script. His opening train carriage sequence, with travelling salesmen all jittering and talking in time with the music, was excellently executed, as was the frosty welcome of the Iowa people.
Jeffery always packs a lot into a scene, but on occasion the direction lost its sparkle and some trimming would have been judicious. That said, his command of the ensemble entertained from start to finish.
The music, directed by Neil Streeter, was stunning. Exquisite harmonies from all the cast were obviously the result of a lot of hard work, and this was topped only by a superb barbershop quartet formed from the argumentative school council - highly enjoyable. Martin Webb as Harold Hill gave great character and made the talk-singing look easy; leaving us breathless in Ya Got Trouble. Kirsty Kingham sang delightfully; playing opposite as The Librarian Marion Paroo and Ian 'Spud' Smith brought out the comedy very well as Marcellus Washburn.
Although the director's larger-than-life. characters of Tommy and Zaneeta were a little too large for me, they seemed to go down well, as did the strong supporting cast. James Compton handled tricky dialogue very well as Marion's younger brother Winthrop. Nikki Taylor gave a wonderfully officious character as Eulalie the mayor's wife leading her brood of clucking women fantastically in pick -a-little- talk -a-little.
Visually, the show was superb, a well designed set and vibrant costumes added to the spectacle. The cast were full of energy and in fine voice, giving us good bouncy entertainment, suitable for all ages.