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Monday, November 16, 2015

The Music Man (2003)

A traveling con man (Matthew Broderick) goes from town to town selling musical instruments and band uniforms to unsuspecting small town communities with promises that he will help teach them but he absconds as soon as he gets his money. But when he reaches River City in Iowa, he becomes more involved with the townspeople than usual and that proves his undoing ..... and his salvation. Meredith Willson's musical was a Broadway sensation in 1957 with Robert Preston. The film version, also with Preston, was one of 1962's biggest box office hits. Preston's performance is pretty iconic so Broderick has some big shoes to fill so he doesn't. By that I mean he doesn't attempt to replicate Preston's performance and goes in another direction. His Harold Hill is more low-keyed, more natural and less Broadway show stopper. It worked for me and proves that the show, not taking anything away from Preston's bravura performance, is not locked into the performance of one particular actor. Kristen Chenoweth makes for a charming Marian The Librarian and the director Jeff Bleckner directs with a strong hand. The film is aided immeasurably by Kathleen Marshall's lively choreography. Broderick is more of a dancer than Preston was so Marshall plays to his strength and uses him as a dancer as much as a singer. With Debra Monk, Victor Garber and Molly Shannon.

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