StarStruck strikes up the band in The Music Man

by Janet Grant
Tri-City Voice – January 13, 2010

Well it’s not quite River City, but Ohlone College Smith Center’s got trouble with a capital “T”, as con artist Harold Hill breezes into town with StarStruck Theatre’s production of “The Music Man.” Artistic Director Lori Stokes leads her amazing musical theatre company to it’s 15th year of quality youth performance with Meredith Willson’s tribute to turn of the century Iowa.

From the first brass notes of the overture to the rousing beats of the finale, Music Director Nancy Godfrey and her 23 piece orchestra accompanied the vibrant cast through wonderfully familiar and inspiring numbers such as “The Wells Fargo Wagon” and of course, “Seventy-Six Trombones.”

The large ensemble numbers such as “Ya Got Trouble,” “Marian Librarian,” and “Shipoopi” were a dazzling display of spirit and talent inspired by the brilliant choreography of Jeanne Batacan-Harper.

“The Music Man” is like comfort food with all the familiarity of an old favorite. Traveling salesman, Professor Harold Hill tries to swindle the stubborn natives of River City, Iowa by conning them into buying band instruments and uniforms for a boy’s band. But before Hill can collect the money and take the train out of town, he falls in love with Marian, the wholesome librarian. It is a moral story of a charlatan redeemed by the love of a good woman. It is also a story full of clean comedy, romance, simple characters, simple melodies, and old fashioned lyrics. It is an uncomplicated story that leaves plenty of room for the cast to burst regularly into joyous song and dance!

StarStruck veteran James M. Jones played Harold Hill with energy and charisma. His enthusiasm was so infectious I could easily have bought a band instrument from him!

Chelsey Sue was a wonderful Marian Paroo and played the spinster librarian with a gentle sweetness. Her amazing voice was perfect for the romantic, “My White Knight” and my favorite, “Till There Was You.” She was joined by her sister Rachel Sue, who played Amaryllis. The two did a beautiful harmony together in “Goodnight My Someone.”

Connor Stokes and Anastasia Tselikova leant great comedic support as Mayor and Mrs. Eulalie Shinn as well as Olivia Cantrell as the widow, Mrs. Paroo. Jeremy Bontadelli, Daniel J. Harper, Kyle Jones, and Scott Kavanagh were quite the quartet as bickering School Board turned melodic barbershop. Their harmonies were amazing. Rebecca Crosbie as contrary teenager, Zaneeta Shinn and Trevor Meyer as her boyfriend, Tommy Djilas were funny and effective as two teenagers in love. Jack Smith played Hill’s old friend Marcellus with a niceness that belied his con man sympathies. And of course, Noah Robinson was absolutely charming as Winthrop Paroo.

The entire StarStruck troupe was electrifying in their energy and the song and dance numbers were awesome. But the salesmen led by Mark McDonald as Charlie Cowell, were exceptional in the opening “Rock Island” number and the Ladies of River City, and the men of the School Board were amazing in “Pick-A-Little, Talk-A-Little,” and “Good Night Ladies.”

StarStruck’s opening night of “The Music Man” was gloriously entertaining. And if the full house at Jackson Theatre was any indication, it is going to be another great hit for the hard-working and marvelous young talent of StarStruck Theatre.

“The Music Man” is Americana at its best. It is small town, country fair, apple pie, Fourth of July, and simple times. It is a rousing fun-filled production full of favorite toe-tapping tunes. Kids will love it, and older folks will remember it with fondness. Do yourself a favor, and go see it with your kids and lots of friends. Support Fremont’s very own StarStruck Theatre now celebrating its 15th year of production. It is quite simply, the very best of youth performing arts.

Performance dates:

Saturday, January 9, at 7:30 p.m.
Sunday, January 10, at 2:30 p.m.
Friday, January 15, (15 Year Anniversary Special Priced Performance)
Saturday, January 16, at 1:00 p.m.* and 7:30 p.m.
Sunday, January 17, at 2:30 p.m.
Friday, January 22, at 7:30 p.m.
Saturday, January 23, at 7:30 p.m.
Sunday, January 24, at 2:30 p.m.

* ASL Interpreted Performance, dedicated to the Fremont Education Foundation

All performances at:
Ohlone College Smith Center, Jackson Theatre
43600 Mission Blvd., Fremont, 94539

Reserved seating prices range from $20-$25. Tickets are available by calling the StarStruck box office at (510) 659-1319 or online at