Arts and Entertainment

‘Ye gods! Thumpin’ thpethial!’

I was born in Iowa and my mother was a teacher in a one-room Iowa school house.

I couldn’t have been entertained more completely than by the Merritt Olsen-brilliantly directed-musical “Music Man,” which we saw May 17 in the San Juan Community Theatre.

Not that I haven’t seen that Meredith Willson extravaganza before. Not that I am as totally ingrained with the culture involved as a Tulsan with the musical “Oklahoma.”

I’m talking about smooth, fast-moving action ... wonderful harmonious choruses by a huge cast ... perfectly delivered lines and lyrics delivered by enthusiastic actors and actresses ages 5 to 85 — local residents all. And I’m talking about talent, yes, talent, right here in Island City!

Roberta Leed, with a coloratura voice reminiscent of Lily Pons, as Marilyn the Librarian, singing songs capable of capturing anyone’s heart (e.g. “Goodnight, My Someone” and “Till There Was You”) ... Ken Serratt, who played the rascally (and captivated) Professor Harold Hill to perfection and with ease, despite carrying the lion’s share of the lyrics and dialogue ... George Iliff as Charlie Cowell, the heavy anvil salesman who blows the whistle on Hill and Hill’s ex-con artist buddy ... Hunter Wood, playing dancing fool Marcellus Washburn.

They all did a great job in their roles.

But most of all, it’s the entire cast, moving scenery while action goes on concurrently, in such a quick efficient manner that it somehow doesn’t distract a bit, that really got to me. It was a long first act, but we hardly noticed. Musical director Dorothy Baker, lights and production chief Don McLaskey and, of course, choreographer Linda Downes and their great crews deserve great credit for making Olsen’s magic come real.

We wish we had room to name every one of the 77 names in the program who deserve praise (one more than the number of trombones sold by Hill). I’ll just quote the exciting Zaneeta Shinn (played by Desirae Whalen) and the lovable youngster Winthrop Paroo (played by Matthew Stepita):

“YE GODS ... IT’TH THOMETHIN’ THPETHIAL, THAT SAN JUAN COMMUNITY THEATRE! ... IT MAKTH A DIFFERENTH, YOU BET!”

I’ve got to mention a few guys and gals who knocked me out: Fred Popham, Ted Soares, Frank Hastings, troupers of my generation ... Bill Lembeck, Judy McManus, Pam Gillette, younger stars ... and family efforts like Denise, Annabelle and Joyce King; Trudy, Joely and Hailey Loucks; Denny and Judy Holm. What a hoot to have theater families in Friday Harbor.

The Town Ladies and Gentlemen ... the Town Council/Barbershop Quartet ... it doesn’t get any better.

We’re sorry to see the Benefit Players’ demise, but hopefully they will merge with Stage Left in other venues. But we’ve still got SJCT to keep things alive on the stage. They did a wonderful job on “Barefoot in the Park” (much better than a bunch of Santa Barbara Theatre actors did in “Nunsense” at a theater in Puerto Vallarta, which I visited earlier this month).

Keep on encouraging our local talent by filling up those seats.

— Contact Howard Schonberger at 378-5696 or hschonberger@sanjuanjournal.com

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