The Music Man

For a revival of musical theater’s most famous portrait of a con artist, the new Broadway production of The Music Man seems oddly lacking in confidence. Meredith Willson’s 1957 classic should sweep you up in a happy spell of suspended disbelief—much as its reformable-rascal hero, the fast-talking traveling mountebank who calls himself Professor Harold Hill, does to the easily misled citizens of a small town in 1912 Iowa. And who better to cast such magic, one might think, than Hugh Jackman, a bonafide movie star with real musical-theater chops, who has already played a charming charlatan on film as the sucker-seer P.T. Barnum in The Greatest Showman? 

Yet while this Music Man is a solid and professional piece of work, and includes many incidental pleasures, the hoped-for enchantment never arrives. The production has reassembled much of the top-shelf creative team behind the thrilling 2017 Bette Midler revival of Hello, Dolly!, including director Jerry Zaks, choreographer Warren Carlyle and designer Santo Loquasto. And as in Dolly, it has surrounded its star with well-proved talents: Broadway darling Sutton Foster as his local foil, the wary librarian Marian Paroo; Marie Mullen as her excitable Irish mother; Jefferson Mays and Jayne Houdyshell as River City’s malaprop-prone mayor and his fussy wife; a loosey-goosey Shuler Hensley as Hill’s old friend and accomplice. The vehicle is polished; what it lacks is drive.


Address: Winter Garden Theatre, 1634 Broadway, New York , 10019

Cross street: between 50th and 51st Sts