'The Music Man' comes to Eastern this weekend

Mar. 15—GREENTOWN — When con man Harold Hill arrives in River City, Iowa, with plans to fleece the town by promising to form a boys' marching band, the only person who might see through him is the town librarian.

That's the premise of "The Music Man," a multi-Tony-Award-winning musical. Eastern High School students will perform the musical this weekend.

Senior Sam Duke stars as the lead, Harold Hill. Duke's character goes around town, collecting money by telling people he will purchase instruments and uniforms. He convinces town folk to give him money by stoking fear about a new pool table being delivered to the local pool hall.

"He's a bit of a weaselly guy," Duke said.

But in comes Marian Paroo, the town librarian and only musician in town.

"She's really suspicious of Harold Hill and doesn't like him at first," said Kate Hubbard, who plays Marian.

A relationship develops between Harold and Marian as the musical goes on.

"He meets his match by falling in love," Duke said.

Hubbard as Marian is the junior's first major role in theater. She's spent a lot of time reading lines together with friends in preparation.

"I like my character; she's very independent," Hubbard said. "I always like to see that in older shows. She doesn't take any crap."

"The Music Man" is set in the summer of 1912.

Duke said the show features plenty of witty humor and interesting characters.

"It's just a fun show," he said. "It doesn't take itself too seriously."

Interesting characters include Mayor Shinn and his wife Eulalie Shinn, played by Levi Lapp and Addie Conner, respectively.

Mayor Shinn owns the pool hall where the new pool table is going and implores the local school board to investigate Harold.

"I think I'm laying down the hammer," Lapp said, "but I'm actually scatterbrained."

As for Conner's character, "I believe I run the entire town. I am the main character in my own story."

Lapp describes it as "silly-goose activity."

There's also Mrs. Paroo, Marian's overbearing mom, played by Claire Hapner. Mrs. Paroo is Irish and Hapner keeps the character authentic, using an accent herself.

"I'm so Irish," she said.

Hapner's character is very concerned about her daughter's love life — or lack thereof — and her high standards for men.

"She's getting old and doesn't have any prospects," Hapner said.

Kamp Miller brings the humor, playing Harold's sidekick Marcellus Washburn.

"I'm a bit of comedic relief," he said. "I help the main guy in his conning endeavors."

The Eastern cast features between 120 and 130 students, including stage crew. A live pit orchestra — also including a couple Eastern students — will perform music live. It's the first time Eastern has used a pit orchestra for "The Music Man."

The cast hopes costumes arrive in time. It's been the one hiccup through the rehearsal process. Karol Evenson, choir director, was still waiting on 13 boxes as of Monday.

"I don't really know at this point," she said. "We're hoping and praying."

Some cast members used makeshift costumes for dress rehearsals this week.

"The show is going very well," Evenson said. "The kids are being very kind about it. They're going with the flow and trusting it's all going to work out."

It's a show worth coming to, according to cast members, because they've worked hard, and the second half of the show really ties it all together.

"The whole second act is very good," Lapp said.

Conner said the last scene brings together humor and realness.

"It's quite touching," she said.

"The Music Man" has performances at 7:30 p.m. Friday and 4:30 p.m. Saturday. Tickets range from $10 to $15, depending on seat. They are available online at eastern.booktix.com or at the door.

Seating is already limited for Friday's performance. It is encouraged to buy Friday tickets online, if available.

Spencer Durham can be reached at 765-454-8598, by email at spencer.durham@kokomotribune.com or on Twitter at @Durham_KT.