‘Music Man’ making third appearance at Tabor

It was a crowd-pleaser 30 years ago and again 10 years ago at Tabor College, and drama director Judy Harder is confident the latest reprise of the popular musical, “The Music Man,” will work its uplifting magic again in four performances on homecoming weekend, Oct. 11-14.

Harder said the musical, which follows the shenanigans of charismatic band leader Harold Hill in a small Indiana town, has always been one of the most popular musical productions among the American public.

“It’s not really up there in theater books with ‘My Fair Lady’ or ‘The Sound of Music,’ but I think it’s popular with a lot of people,” she said.”Certain people just like the small-town, sentimental, good family values and the music.”

Harder said she still hears comments about the memorable performance of Gary Wiens as Hill when the production was given in the early 1970s under the direction of Jack Braun.

“It’s tells me how memorable performances are that work,” she said. “If the whole pied-piper idea works (on stage), the audience ought to be mesmerized by him, too.”

This will be the second time in 10 years that Harder has directed this production. Brad Vogel, assistant professor of choral music, will oversee the music for his first time as a Tabor faculty member.

Harder said she chose to do the show again this year not so much because of its popularity, but because she had the students who fit the roles.

“We just had spots for people,” she said. “In a lot of musicals, if you don’t have your lead, you don’t have anything. This spreads (the singing and acting) out to include a number of people.”

Playing the part of Harold Hill this time around will be Nathan Tofteland, a senior.

“He’s a very relaxed singer and an all-round friendly and personable guy,” she said. “It’s no small thing when the leads are mature, responsible, cooperating team-player type people.”

Playing the female lead of Marion the Librarian is Charity Stahl, also a senior.

“I’m so pleased she has one more chance to perform,” Harder said. “She’s been in and out of shows here since she was a freshman.”

That pair will head a cast of more than 50 members, including the orchestra and staff.

“It’s a big show,” Harder said. “Between the costumes and a number of scene changes and costume changes, plus small backstage, it becomes a real challenge at times.”

In addition to Tabor students, the cast includes several Tabor faculty and other community residents and children.

Younger performers in the cast include Cassie Kroeker (Amaryllis), Nathan Vogel (Winthrop), Ben Heyen, Alex Jost, Peyton Loewen, Tina Loewen, Cody McMillen, Jet Skiles and David Vogel, all of Hillsboro.

The character of Winthrop is a crowd favorite and Harder said Nathan Vogel is filling the role “wonderfully.”

The young performers have already been a positive addition to rehearsals.

“I didn’t have to prompt the Tabor students one bit to make the children feel welcomed,” Harder said. “They enjoy them thoroughly. It was really fun to see that.”

Harder said she and the cast have worked through their questions about producing such a light-hearted musical when recent national events have been so dark and disturbing.

“It’s another occasion to talk about when do we stop what we’re doing and pay attention to some bigger issues and when do we keep on doing what we’ve been given to do,” Harder said.

“I remember hearing on the news how television shows and movies have had to take into consideration what they’re programming this fall,” she added. “Does ‘Music Man’ seem real trivial in the light of all this-or is it good?

“It’s another laboratory for talking about the role of popular media in times like this.”

Each performance of “The Music Man” will be held at the Hillsboro High School auditorium.

Following each performance, members of the audience will be invited to an ice cream social and will have an opportunity to help defray the cost of the show with donations.

All seats are reserved, and tickets are on sale. Reservations can be made by calling the Student Development Office at 947-3121, ext. 1033.

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