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Trouble in River City

The Music Man
Clear Creek Amana High School students in the cast of the Meredith Willson classic, “The Music Man,” fill the stage in the Performing Arts Center during a dress rehearsal Wednesday, April 19. The show ran from Thursday, April 20, through Saturday, April 22. (photo by Chris Umscheid)MORE PHOTOS

By Chris Umscheid
North Liberty Leader
TIFFIN– A variety of mischievous characters have appeared on the stage in the Performing Arts Center at the Clear Creek Amana (CCA) High School in Tiffin, from The Cat in the Hat to Baron Bolligrew and Willy Wonka. Add Professor Harold Hill to the list.
Hill is, of course, the protagonist in Meredith Willson’s American musical classic “The Music Man,” which was put on by CCA fine arts and drama students Thursday, April 20, through Saturday, April 22, in four performances. Eli Davidson, a senior, portrayed the scheming professor, who seeks to hoodwink the good people of River City with the proposition of a town band for their boys, in the name of saving them from vices.
In the end, Hill finds redemption, and love, in the form of Marian Paroo, the town music teacher and librarian (played by Nicole Wichhart, a junior).
Drama and Technical Director Tom Milligan noted it is the show’s 60th anniversary since its Broadway debut. However, such a noteworthy occasion was secondary to Milligan and Musical Director Tracy Williams.
“Tracy looked at this last year and we started researching it a bit and found out that it was 60 years, so we felt it was appropriate to do it.” Milligan said people tend to remember the 1962 movie version starring Shirley Jones and Robert Preston. The Iowa connection and the show being a nice period piece made it a good venue to showcase CCA’s talent.
Milligan added the challenge in staging “The Music Man” comes from needing somebody to play Harold and Marian, as well as a quartet that can perform in the style of a barbershop quartet.
“It’s a very musically-challenging show for a lot of kids” he added. “It’s been a road that we’ve traveled, and we’ve finally pulled it all together.”
Auditions were held before the Christmas break, scripts were handed out in early January with multiple rehearsals every week since.
“It’s been a long road.”
It was the final performance on the CCA stage for seniors Davidson, Joel Burzacott, Malachi Rocca, Jenna Weih, John Petrazelka, Jack Wingert, Luke Wingert, Joe Rohret, Ethan Schutterle, Xander Bellus, Artez Johnson and Branden Smiddy.
“They’re really a good, solid group of kids,” Milligan said. “They’re not only good performers but good leaders as well.” The cast included many freshman, he noted. “They (the seniors) gave the younger kids somebody to look up to that knows how to learn your lines, that knows how to take direction. We’ll miss them, but we’ve got a great group of juniors, so we look forward to that as well.”