When the weather is so hot and sticky that even the mosquitoes leave town, there’s no place like Malkin Bowl in Stanley Park for an evening that’s cool in more ways than one.
Vancouver’s legendary summer company Theatre Under the Stars, in its 66th season, sets feet tapping and hands clapping with a stylish production of that good old chestnut, The Music Man. An enormous and energetic cast romps through the story of con man Harold Hill, who sells musical instruments and band uniforms to naïve parents of school children in small-town Iowa, then skips town with the cash before giving a single lesson.
When Harold hits no-fun River City he meets his match in prim librarian Marian (it’s 1912), and the rest is predictable classic Broadway. Well, almost: a barbershop quartet delivers sublime harmonies, the clever tunes (by Meredith Wilson) are familiar and well paced in Christopher King’s musical direction, and the hoofers dance nimbly through choreography by Dayna Tekatch. But director Sarah Rodgers departs from tradition (and social history) with the colour-blind casting of silky-voiced Daren Herbert as Harold. Her choice pays off in his adept handling of signature classics such as “Ya Got Trouble” and “Seventy-six Trombones” and in the chemistry between him and Samantha Currie as Marian. Currie’s singing voice is powerful and bell-like, yet sweet and tender in the too brief “Till There Was You.” A fine supporting cast features Barbara Pollard as Marian’s mother and the adorable Aidan Wessels as Marian’s little brother Winthrop. The Music Man alternates with a brave new production of Titanic until Aug. 18.—Louise Phillips