Music Man Marches Into PHS

McKenna Zacher and Nobi Johnson

The lights begin to dim.

The conductor raises his baton, motioning for the start of the brassy overture, overlaid with the murmurs of an excited audience.

Soon, a handful of actors make their way onto the stage, signaling the end of the overture and the beginning of the musical.

The audience is immersed into the world of The Music Man, being introduced to the people of River City, Iowa, through song and dance.

Junior Mariah Perez, who plays Maud Dunlop in The Music Man, shares the premise of the musical.

“It is about a man named Harold Hill [played by senior Malcolm Omri] and he goes to this little town in Iowa. He is trying to scam them all; he wants their money and he wants to leave. That is all he wants. But he ends up not quite getting there. He meets this lady, Marian, who is a little more investigative than everyone has been before when he has scammed people,” Perez said.

The Music Man is the first musical PHS has done since 2015, which enticed Perez to try out.

“PHS only does a musical every other year so this is my only musical that I am going to be doing here because I am a junior. And it was really interesting to see the dynamics [that] are different from a musical versus a play like we usually do,” Perez said.

As the drama department only does a musical every other year, they usually go big. The Music Man is an entire Region Three production, cast members ranging from kindergarteners to seniors. According to Perez, this has made for an unique experience compared to other productions she has been apart of.

“It is a lot different dealing with the kids and the junior-highers. It is really fun just to be with kids all the time. It can be exhausting because they are energetic and we have to be [like], ‘We have to stay quiet backstage so they cannot hear you.’ It is nice being able to teach them, to sort of teach them theater because they have not done it before,” Perez said.

Working with the junior high students from Kalles, Aylen and Edgemont, respectively, has especially impressed Perez.

“It is interesting. Especially with the junior-high kids. Sometimes you do not know if they are a junior higher or a high schooler,” Perez said.

Marian Paroo, the female lead of the show, is played by Hannah McVay, a freshman at Kalles. McVay has been doing theatre since she was four years old, being a part of shows at  ManeStage Theatre in Sumner and Kalles Junior High. McVay shared her reason for auditioning for this particular production.

“It is one of my all-time favorites. I love [The Music Man] and I thought I would just give it a try. I almost did not audition but then I just thought I would give it a try because I love [this] musical,” McVay said.

McVay’s character, Marian Paroo, is the town librarian, who is also the music teacher. McVay shared her perspective about her character.

“Marian is very stubborn and hard to get and she does not like being told what to do. Deep down she is kind of lonely; she wishes she had someone in her life, she wishes she had a husband. Everyone is saying she is an old maid and she tries to act like she does not care but deep down she really does. She just waiting for the right man to come. Her mom is trying to fix her up with someone all the time. She is a really sweet person at heart but she puts up walls. She does not want everyone to see her real self,” McVay explained.

Perez also shared about her character, who is one of the Pick-A-Little ladies.

“My character, her name is Maud Dunlop but she is one of the sort-of herd. We are the Pick-A-Little ladies, which basically means we are the town gossips. We know everything about everyone’s business,” Perez said.

According to Perez, playing one of the Pick-A-Little ladies is fun, as they do not have to be serious with their roles.

“[My character] is really weird. You will see if you watch it. The Pick-A-Littles are just crazy; they are really eccentric and it is really fun to play them because we do not have to be so uptight or serious about the role and we can just have fun with it,” Perez said.

Both Perez and McVay say one of the best moments in the show is the song “Shipoopi,” in which Marcellus Washburn (senior Trevor Hansen) leads the town in an extravagant dance number.

“I really like the “Shipoopi” dance. We do that and it is a lot of fun to just see because it has a lot of the different characters in it. It is fun to see them all together dancing,” Perez said.

McVay shared a story that happened once while rehearsing “Shipoopi.”

“One time when Professor Hill twirled me around, the floor was super saw-dusty from building the sets. He twirled me around and I slipped but he caught me, of course. It all worked out but it was really scary. I totally just did one of those slips where you almost fall on your back but then he caught me so it was okay,” McVay said.

McVay shared why she believes the community should come out to see the production.

“I think it is a good show. We have really awesome, talented people in [the show]. It is a really fun family show,” McVay said.

The Music Man has three shows remaining: Nov. 17 at 7 p.m., Nov. 18 at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. in the Puyallup High School auditorium. Tickets are $10.