Actress Shirley Jones, who played Marian the Librarian in the original movie, “The Music Man,” is returning to Mason City to co-star with her son Patrick Cassidy in a new production based around the Meredith Willson musical.
“The Music Man — In Concert” will make its world premiere in Mason City next month. Speaking at a news conference via Skype Wednesday afternoon, Cassidy, says he’ll produce the musical and will also play the lead role of Harold Hill, while his mother will not be playing Marian the Librarian.
Jones, who’s now 80-years-old, will be playing the part of Mrs. Paroo, as the production will give audiences an inside look of what it was like from Jones’ point of view as she filmed the movie. Cassidy and Jones say they are both elated that they are able to premiere this production in the community that was the prototype for River City, Willson’s home town.
Cassidy says he can’t think of another place in the world where he’d rather premiere the production. Jones says it was an incredible and exciting first premiere when the movie opened in Mason City in 1962 with marching bands lining the streets. Cassidy says the show will include a cast of singers and dancers who will travel with the production group, but they will also utilize talent from North Iowa Area Community College, the Mason City High School band and choir, the Stebens Children’s Theater and local professional musicians.
He says they wanted to give each city on their production tour a chance to not only utilize a chorus of all local singers, but also a local marching band. The role of “Winthrop” will also be cast locally, a part originally played by Ron Howard. Jones was pregnant with Cassidy during the filming of “The Music Man” and they both agree it’s one of the best-written musicals of all time.
Jones says it was always “the perfect musical” as the music and writing of Meredith Willson “was so wonderful…every actor has ever played any of the roles in ‘The Music Man’ always says it’s the best musical they’ve been in, and I understand that.” Cassidy says it’s the dream of every leading man actor to play the role of Harold Hill.
The performances will be on September 18th and 19th at the North Iowa Community Auditorium on the North Iowa Area Community College campus.
Early ticket sales are available starting Friday for sponsors and season ticket holders of the NIACC Performing Arts and Leadership Series and supporters of Music Man Square. Tickets will be available for the general public starting on August 21st.
(Story and picture by Bob Fisher, KRIB, Mason City)