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What a true delight! What a joy!
5-Star Theatricals opened their 25th season with Meredith Willson’s THE MUSIC MAN starring Broadway’s Adam Pascal on Friday, 18 October 2019, with fanfare and three cheers from an enchanted audience.
25 years ago, when the Thousand Oaks Civic Arts Plaza first opened in Thousand Oaks, The Cabrillo Theatre (now known as 5-Star Theatricals) produced their first production of THE MUSIC MAN and now 25 years later they are back and with the same sets (!), the original director in the audience, and the same fabulous music that makes THE MUSIC MAN such a timeless and cherished family-friendly musical.
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Three Cheers for:
Adam Pascal as Harold Hill was a rare treat giving a performance that was respectful to the original great Robert Preston and yet bringing his own special charisma and vocal prowess. For those used to his gorgeous singing voice from favorites such as Aida and Chess will perhaps miss his powerhouse ballads but there is something to be said for the understated way he brings Harold Hill to life and weaves a spell over both the cast and audience alike. Pascal is a true showman and it is a rare delight to see him perform on the West Coast and in a role he described as “one of the most coveted roles in musical theatre“.
Out of curiosity, who during a special moment in the 2nd act was suddenly wishing Adam Pascal would start serenading us with “Written in the Stars” (AIDA)?
Katharine McDonough‘s Marian was a hit with the crowd. Audience members were heard exclaiming how she needed to be on Broadway as they exited the theatre. This reviewer especially enjoyed her scenes with scene-stealer Lisa Dyson (Mrs. Paroo) and Joshua Blond (Winthrop).
Further scene stealers were Trent Mills (Marcellus) who was the perfect scene partner for Adam Pascal in “The Sadder-But-Wiser Girl”), Christie Lynn Lawrence who did a fabulous job bringing heart to the role of Mrs. Shinn while at the same time being the cause of many a giggle from the audience, Joe Hart (fresh from Lincoln Center’s My Fair Lady) who was hilarious as Mayor Shinn especially when acting opposite the beautifully sounding School Board (Chris Hunter, Jonathan Matthews, James Thomas Miller and L. Michael Wells).
A special shout out to Antonia Vivino (younger sister to local favorite Natalia Vivino) who was a vision as Zaneeta as she danced elegantly across the stage and had the audience in stitches with her trademark Zaneeta phraseology.
And I would be very remiss if I did not give a shout out to our incredible traveling salesmen (Rich Grosso, Lucas Blankenhorn, Chris Hunter, Jonathan Matthews, James Thomas Miller, Chet Norment, Camal Pugh, Spencer Ty, L. Michael Wells) who opened the show with one of the funniest and most delightful “Rock Island” scenes I have ever been lucky enough to witness.
The moment I spotted Music Director & Conductor Brad Ellis (“Glee”) in his hat, I knew we were in for a treat and right I was. Ellis was a joy to watch as he conducted the glorious 18-piece 5-Star Theatricals Orchestra much as I imagine Harold Hill would have longed to do – with passion and flare.
And thanks to the 18-piece orchestra, Meredith Willson’s music had no troubles filling The Kavli Theatre with a lush and full sound and yet not once was the cast ever overpowered.
THE DESIGN TEAM
Three cheers for the design team who were the unsung heroes of the show. Everything from Peggy Hickey‘s whimsical choreography to Tanya Apuya‘s gorgeous costume design to Jonathan A. Burke’s pitch-perfect sound design (not a single microphone hiccup on opening night!) was perfect!!
But I have to especially point out the terrific lighting design by Jared A. Sayeg. I was immediately in love from the moment I saw the way he cast Adam Pascal’s shadow at the end of the First Scene (just prior to his turning around for the big reveal). I just might have gotten goosies, in fact, knowing that was only a foreshadowing of what was to come.
And congratulations to Director Larry Raben who did a fantastic job recreating such an iconic musical on The 5-Star Theatricals’ stage from the clever orchestration of “Rock Island” to the beautifully staged ensemble numbers.
THE WHO, THE WHAT and THE WHERE:
PERFORMANCES: Fridays at 8pm; Saturdays at 2pm and 8pm; Sundays at 2pm on October 19th and 1pm on October 27th & Thursday, October 24th at 7:30pm
THOUSAND OAKS CIVIC ARTS PLAZA
2100 Thousand Oaks Blvd, in Thousand Oaks
Tickets range from $35 – $83
For tickets, please call (800) 745-3000.
For theatre information, call (805) 449-ARTS (2787) or buy online at http://www.5startheatricals.com.
Student, Senior and Group discounts are available.
Disclaimer: I received my tickets for review purposes but all opinions are my own!