Iconic 'Music Man' To Play At Goodman Theatre

Lisa Fielding
June 19, 2019 - 2:02 pm

CHICAGO (WBBM NEWSRADIO) -- If you are of a certain age and had a music class in middle school, you were sure to learn one of the iconic tunes from "The Music Man."

"'Seventy-Six Trombones,' 'Gary, Indiana,' 'Til There Was You' -- people sing along word for word," said Mary Zimmerman, Tony Award-winning director.

"It holds as a piece of entertainment. It's so accessible musically in terms of the story, there's such great charm to it."

Zimmerman said the revival is sure to bring back memories and hook a new generation of theater goers.

"With classic works like this that really work, that were made by people who knew what they were doing, they last, they hold as long as people continue to perform them well. What works then still works, I think," she said.

The Music Man
WBBM Newsradio/Lisa Fielding

In 1957, the show became a hit on Broadway, winning five Tony Awards, including Best Musical, and running for 1,375 performances.

The show's success led to revivals, including a long-running 2000 Broadway revival, a popular 1962 film adaptation, and a 2003 television adaptation.

"In a way, it's intimidating when you work on something so classic, especially when there's a film that hangs around that lots of people have seen and know with iconic performances. Although in the room, you forget about that, but people do have expectations. A lot of people know the songs word for word. But coming from opera, where the expectations are so overpowering, it doesn't feel particularly heavy compared to that," she said. 

The Music Man
WBBM Newsradio/Lisa Fielding

Zimmerman said her production sticks to the original for the most part.

"You want a fresh idea, but I don't have any radical take on it. I have my own Midwestern-informed take on it in terms of the design. I know the Midwest. I know the landscape, and I can imagine it in 1912 very easily," she said.

This is Zimmerman's 16th production at the Goodman, celebrating 25 years as the Goodman’s Manilow Resident Director.

Mary Zimmerman, Tony Award Winning Director
WBBM Newsradio/Lisa Fielding

"There are way more women directors now. When I was little, there was no role model for this now. It clarifies the need for women like me. Someone who exists in the profession," she said.

"I've also seen progression of women wanting to be directors. When I was young, it was all about wanting to be on stage."

The Music Man
WBBM Newsradio/Lisa Fielding

The cast of 27 actors and 11 musicians will be at the Goodman Theater June 29 through Aug. 11.

"This show is very joyful. It has a very beautiful message of music helping to unite people and to be in harmony with each other, both figuratively and literally."