XU ‘Music Man’ receives singing praise

By: Hannah Paige Michels ~Head Photographer~

Photo courtesy of Mikki Schaffner | Rachael Petranek (left) plays Marian the librarian and Eric Minion (left) plays Harold Hill the con man in Xavier Theatre’s The Music Man, which ran during Family Weekend with sold-out shows.

Xavier Theatre’s outstanding performance this weekend had The Music Man marching right into our hearts.

The musical follows con man Harold Hill to Iowa as he convinces the people of River City to let him form a boys’ band before he skips town. Harold struggles with exposing his charade when he falls for the local librarian and piano teacher Marian Paroo.

Eric Minion fell nicely into his role of Harold Hill and made up for his average vocals with a lively and charming performance.

Without a doubt, Rachael Petranek, playing Marian Paroo, stole the show from the very beginning with a heartwarming rendition of “Goodnight, My Someone.” Petranek’s gorgeous vibrato and vocal control proved to be outstanding casting for the show.

Other standout roles come in the form of the barbershop quartet comprising Alex Antonelli, Aaron Krick, Matt Wilkinson and Brandon Langjahr.

Excitement flooded the audience as soon as the group first harmonized in the show, with their rendition of “Ice Cream” being particularly sweet.

The wooden set made effective use of the stage space, allowing for the cast to stagger themselves on the varying levels of stairs for visual interest.

The moving staircases were particularly innovative for the scene at the footbridge. Aside from a single spotlighting issue in the opening night performance, lighting colors and transitions were smooth and truly set the mood for each scene.

At no fault to the cast, the song “Marian the Librarian” was incredibly underwhelming, but creative blocking and choreography of closing books added a great visual element that made up for the bland song.

The show would not have been complete without the slew of child actors to brighten up the performance.

The entire ensemble was colorful and vibrant, truly adding a concrete element of charm to the performance. Donald Burns, playing Tommy Djilas, and Ellie Conniff, playing Zaneeta Shinn, were particularly charming and gave wonderful performances.

Just two shows in, Xavier Theatre has come out swinging this season and shows no sign of slowing down.

If the program can keep up the momentum, the 2016-2017 theater season could easily be a grand slam.