By Starla Pointer • Staff Writer • 

Music Man to open at Gallery

Marcus Larson / News-Register##Harold Hill (Adam Ewing) encourages the River City women to gossip in Gallery Theater s production of  The Music Man.
Marcus Larson / News-Register##Harold Hill (Adam Ewing) encourages the River City women to gossip in Gallery Theater's production of "The Music Man."
Marcus Larson / News-Register##Harold Hill (Adam Ewing) and Marion (Karen Kumley) sing   Til There was You  in Gallery Theater s production of  The Music Man.
Marcus Larson / News-Register##Harold Hill (Adam Ewing) and Marion (Karen Kumley) sing "'Til There was You" in Gallery Theater's production of "The Music Man."

There’ll be trouble in River City, all right, when slick salesman Harold Hill comes to town in “The Music Man,” opening Friday, Feb. 26, at Gallery Theater.

The musical will play at 7:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 3 p.m. Sundays, through March 18, in the theater at Second and Ford streets, downtown McMinnville.

Tickets are $17 for adults and $15 for students and seniors. On Saturday, Feb. 27, only, tickets will be sold on a two-for-one basis.

Musician and playwright Meredith Willson wrote “The Music Man” as a tribute to his own hometown of Mason City, Iowa, and to close-knit small towns everywhere, said Seth Renne, who is directing the show at Gallery. 

He said he keeps reminding his cast that the quirky characters are based on real people who care about their town and its values. They’re all the more funny because of that.

“The Music Man” is set in 1912 in River City, Iowa. As his train approaches the town, Hill hears other salesmen grumbling about how difficult it is to sell anything to its pragmatic, penny-pinching residents. He takes the challenge and hops off.

Soon he’s pedaling his specialty, a boys’ band, to the residents. He takes orders for shiny brass instruments and, with delivery pending, directs rehearsals using “the Think System.”

But his patented scam — making off with the money before parents realize no instruments will ever arrive — runs into trouble when he meets Marisn, the single librarian. She sees through him as if he were made of cellophane.

Marian is one of the characters Renne admires about the show. Although Willson wrote it in the 1950s, Renne said, he made her a strong woman who makes her own choices.

The director said he also enjoys the townspeople and the clever touches throughout the story.

“It’s a fun show, with a nostalgic, Americana feel,” said Renne, who’s also the theater’s manager.

He has performed in the musical twice, once at Gallery in 2004 and in an earlier production when he was a high school student in Newberg. 

He suggested “The Music Man” to Gallery’s play selection committee because he enjoys the humor and the music in the show — “My White Knight” is one of his favorite of the tunes, along with “Goodnight, My Someone,” “Till There was You.” the barbershop-style “Lida Rose” and, of course, “76 Trombones.

“The Music Man” also is a pleasant family show in which a lot of youngsters can take part, he said.

Indeed, children and teens make up about half the 45-member cast. The cast as a whole includes both theater veterans and newcomers.

Adam Ewing, who plays the title role, has been acting at Gallery since he was a Dayton High School student. He is reprising the role he played in the 2004 production.

Jasper Hitchman, who plays Winthrop, on the other hand, is a novice. “He just wowed us all away at auditions,” Renne said of the 10-year-old. 

Karen Kumley, who played Laurey in last fall’s “Oklahoma!”, portrays Marian the librarian. Melissa Thomas plays Mrs. Paroo, the mother of Marian and Winthrop.

Thomas, her husband Webb, who plays Mayor Shinn, and daughter Leigh, an ensemble member, are among several family groups in the production.

Renne said there are several combinations of parents and children, brothers and couples who’ll be seen on stage. Other parents are helping out behind the scenes.

The cast also features Cody Kopp as Harold’s right hand man Marcellus; John Hamilton as Charlie Cowell, another salesman; Micah Porter as Tommy Djilas, who’s courting Zaneeta Shinn, the mayor’s daughter, played by Skyler Wolfe; and Kathleen Walter as Eulalie Shinn.

Other cast members are Bryce Abeln, Macen Bittner, Jon Carter, Ember Eastman, Dawson Eckdahl, Joelle Eckdahl, Marci Ehrhart, Evan Ewing, Aliyah Ferry, Tristan Ferry, Keith Forsythe, Noah Gerbrandt, Sean Gerbrandt, Walter Haight, John Hamilton, Kevin Hamler-Dupras, Debbie Harmon Ferry, Brian Janssen, Kelly Janssen, Molly Janssen, Anna Johnson, Betsy LeClair, Micky Logan, Kylee Longaker, Seth Mayhew, Mary Smalley, Caroline Smith, Caden Stephens,  Elliya Turk, Nicholas Vece, Kathleen Walter, Cathy Willoughby, Matthew Willoughby, Caleb Yates and Jason Yates.

Walter also is the vocal director for the show. Eastman is the choreographer.

Ashley Benham-Bertolini is in charge of costumes. Marla Nuttman is the assistant director, with Diane Longaker in charge behind the scenes.

Sami Whitmore is in charge of lights and Paula Terry is doing sound design, with Karen Root working microphones.

Ben Frum and Renne designed the set.

For more information and reservations, call 503-472-2227 or go to

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