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The Music Man is here!

Philip Shore

For the Randolph Hub


ASHEBORO – Cole Porter summed up the excitement and community spirit right well: “Another op’nin’! Another Show! A chance for stage folks to say hello!” 


RSVP Community Theatre, with support from the City of Asheboro, is about to bring a treasure of genuine American small-town life to the Sunset Theatre. Meredith Willson’s The Music Man will be presented July 28-30 and August 4-6.


It’s 1912. River City, Iowa, is about to receive a visit from a very charming con man, when “Professor” Harold Hill steps off the train. The rail systems have tied the country together, so obviously he knows whereof he speaks. He enthusiastically purports to save the town from “Trouble” by selling undelivered band uniforms and instruments for cash on the barrelhead. Oh, my goodness!


Marian Paroo, the town librarian, as perhaps the best informed person in town, should perhaps know better, but the con man is particularly adept at reaching soft hearts. Will he experience a change in his own heart?


A cast of 40-some of your friends and neighbors, both older and younger, offer you this splendiferous and tuneful spectacle as a result of their dedicated work in the crafts of acting, music and ballyhoo under the leadership of artistic director Jim Shover, music director Rick Morgan and choreographer Elizabeth Parry. 


The talents and abilities of Mr. Morgan and Ms Parry are well known. A word about Mr. Shover is necessary. Within him live all the arts: Teacher, painter, designer, builder, actor, dancer — all administered with humor and compassion. Perhaps his most notable talent is that of listening. These things are much easier when the actors and crew are as good as the ones he is working with now.


The actors are people as interesting as the characters.


Let’s begin with Winthrop Paroo, Marian’s young brother. He is portrayed by Owen Scott, age 10. This is his first show and he is having a fine time. And in fine RSVP multiple-family-member-cast tradition: Owen is the grandson of Music Director Rick Morgan.


Then there is “Professor” Hill, Timothy Miller. A Greensboro resident, his day work is in Android software development. Work and family life have limited his stage appearances, but his history does include a stint as a cowboy at Tweetsie. He began academic life at Appalachian as a music major but later discovered a love of computer science. Tim has been impressed by the dynamic of the show preparation. He feels very much a part of the cast family.


Asheboro’s own Shannon Lowe is Marian Paroo. She is well known to the community through the annual Ghost Walk and the Christmas Caroling bus tours as well as, most recently, The Merry Wives of Windsor. Shannon works with Zoo Society Membership. She is “super excited” about the show and very impressed with the cast with whom she works.


To complete the Paroo family, we have Peggy George Kilburn as Mrs. Paroo, the feisty matriarch. Peggy’s parents were both native New Yorkers of Irish descent, who throughout her youth— just for fun — would merrily break into a brogue. Peggy is tickled to now bring that Auld Sod dialect to the Asheboro stage.


Familiar faces you might also recognize include JB Griffith III in the barbershop quartet. He is one of several cast members reviving a mainstay of the first RSVP productions at their inception: Multiple family members in the cast. JB is performing with his granddaughter Alex who balances a book on her head beautifully. Mother-daughter team Susan Jarrett and Megan Smith are here. Charlie White and his daughter Tatum also.


Another familiar face is Justin Tarlton as Mayor Shinn. He, too, was in Merry Wives and directed Clue: On Stage. With all his experience in theatre, this is his first musical and, wouldn’t you know it, he doesn’t sing a note. Portraying his wife Eulalie Mackecknie Shinn is the incomparable Laurine Concutelli Varner. She continues her unbroken string of RSVP hits. Well known in High Point and Greensboro theatre circles as well, not to mention her statewide (and beyond) touring with Star-Spangled Girls produced by Touring Theatre of North Carolina, Laurine finds the appreciation of that show by veterans very touching indeed.


The list of talent goes on and on, each person with abilities that in some cases had not been developed previously. For example, Mike Miller, former banker, former college president, is now adding the stage to his accomplishments. As are Joyce Spoon and Shelley Peterson. RSVP is a welcoming organization.


There is deep ability in the support troops: Alisa Smith McNeill as producer; props by Michele Dawes, assisted by Theresa Thompson; stage management by Ann Greene, assisted by Gracie-Faith Macon; and a special spotlight artist — Scott Hunter.


The interest and participation by cast and crew is enhanced because of the nature and deep popularity of this show which attracts performers as readily as audience members, among which RSVP hopes you will find yourself. You easily can attend with this information: 


Friday and Saturday performances (July 28-29 and August 4-5) begin at 7 pm. Sunday matinees (July 30 and August 6) begin at 2 pm. Tickets are $20/23 for adults; $15/18 for seniors, youth, military. Available online at www.eventbrite.com/cc/the-music-man-2259759 (fees apply) or in person from Brightside Gallery (170 Worth Street), cash or check only, no cards but no fees. Box office at theatre will open at 6 pm on performance dates. The Sunset Theatre, located at 234 Sunset Avenue in Asheboro, is owned and operated by the City of Asheboro.