'The Music Man' visits with state all-star cast
WORTHINGTON — There will be no trouble in River City — nor in Worthington — when a cast of eight all-star Minnesota actors packs up its Wells Fargo wagon and heads to Nobles County next week.
An innovative, outside-the-box rendition of Meredith Willson’s classic “The Music Man” is the treat just waiting to be enjoyed by local audiences in two free performances, scheduled for Feb. 4 and 5.
“This is the third season Ten Thousand Things Theater Company of Minneapolis is going outside the Twin Cities with several shows,” said Kathy Graves, a spokesperson for the award-winning theater.
“There seems to be almost a greater need for theater in other places than right in the Twin Cities, so we try to go to new communities to share the artistic process.”
In Worthington, “The Music Man” will play first at 6 p.m. next Tuesday at the Center for Active Living, followed by a 6 p.m. Wednesday show at the Minnesota West Community and Technical College’s Fine Arts Theater.
“But this is ‘The Music Man’ like you’ve never seen it before,” assured Graves. “With only eight actors playing the full cast of characters, each person plays multiple parts.
“It’s an amazing thing, and you really see the caliber of the artists involved — they are some of the region’s, even the country’s, finest actors, and watching them is a delight.”
Indeed, all eight of the Twin Cities-based actors — Luverne Seifert, Bradley Greenwald, Aimee Bryant, Sarah Agnew, Jim Lichtscheidl, Dennis Spears, Kimberly Richardson and Ricardo Vasquez — possess outstanding credentials and have acted at the Twin Cities’ premier theaters, including the Guthrie, Theatre de la Jeune Lune, the Children’s Theatre Company and Penumbra Theatre, among other regional and national locales.
In August 2012, Seifert led a spirited cast that involved several local actors in an adaptation of Anton Chekhov’s “The Cherry Orchard” at the Historic Dayton House, and he liked the response from Worthington-area residents so much he was inspired to return.
“They really loved it,” agreed Graves, so when Ten Thousand Things — a 20-year-old company whose mission is to “bring lively, intelligent theater to people with little access to the wealth of the arts” — planned its tour for “The Music Man,” Worthington made the list.
Bemidji, Thief River Falls, Thomas Edison High School in Minneapolis, the Shakopee Women’s Prison and the Ramsey County Workhouses will also be stops along the way, with public shows of the production taking place periodically from Feb. 14 through March 9 at the Open Book in Minneapolis.
“Ten Thousand Things is all about taking high quality theater to non-traditional locations, and that means doing shows in different ways — sometimes the lights stay up, the shows are done in the round, the actors are never or rarely out of the audience’s view — it becomes a very intimate theater experience that is done most professionally,” said Graves.
“The actors say it is a really intense way to perform, but also very rewarding,” she added.
Lear deBessonet directs this version of “The Music Man,” which tells the tale of musical con man Harold Hill (Seifert) and Marian the Librarian (Bryant) amidst the staid and reluctant, though ultimately enthusiastic, citizens of River City, Iowa.
Seifert heads the B.A. performance program in the Department of Theater Arts at the University of Minnesota, and Graves calls him “a phenomenal actor.”
“He and Nancy Waldoch, the production manager, thought it would be really fun to return to Worthington,” said Graves, acknowledging all involved are hoping Nobles County residents will respond more warmly to “The Music Man” here in early February than River City residents did to Harold Hill.
“We are bringing arts out to the people,” said Graves, “and we hope as many as possible will take advantage of the opportunity.”
Free tickets for “The Music Man” may be reserved by visiting www.tenthousandthings.org or calling 1- 800-838-3006. Performances are set for 6 p.m. Feb. 4 at the Center for Active Living, 211 11th St., Worthington, and 6 p.m. Feb. 5 at the Minnesota West Community and Technical College Fine Arts Theater, 1450 Collegeway, Worthington.
This activity is made possible in part by a grant provided by the Minnesota State Arts Board, through an appropriation by the Minnesota State Legislature from the Minnesota Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund with money from the vote of the people of Minnesota on Nov. 4, 2008.