Many people have heard the marching band tunes that won the musical “The Music Man” multiple Tony Awards in 1958-1959, even if they don’t realize it. “Till There Was You” was in the 1998 romantic comedy “The Wedding Singer,” “76 Trombones” is featured at Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, and “Shipoopi” was in the Fox Network animated comedy “Family Guy.”
The Sherman Community Players have jumped into the Broadway book and score for the first musical of the spring semester of the theater’s 70th season.
Since the December resignation of the theater’s creative director, SCP has called in several directors to lead the plays to conclude this season. For this show, both the director and the choreographer for this show will be Josh Harris.
“Personally, being the director and the choreographer is hard,” Harris said. “It is like taking off one hat and putting on the other hat because we have to look at the show in different ways. Truly after that, it has been an incredible journey. I have a wonderfully dedicated cast that has been off-book. They have memorized their lines — some of them by the very first rehearsal. That shows their dedication.”
Harris knows a bit about dedication. He has been with Theatricks and SCP since he was a teenager. He played the Beast in the 2005 production of “Beauty and the Beast” as well as in the most recent Theatricks performance of the show.
“‘76 Trombones’ and ‘Shipoopi’ are the two biggest numbers of this show and they are the two longest numbers of this show — both are about seven minutes,” Harris said. “They are two that just get your toes tapping and get your spirits lifting. It is cool how ‘76 Trombones’ has been integrated into the American culture. People recognize that song, but may not recognize that it comes from ‘The Music Man.’”
There are 34 actors in this production with an even split of children and adults. With crew included, the stage, backstage, and orchestra pit will be filled for the Feb. 15-24 showings of the play.
“I want to see continual growth not only in the arts community in Sherman, but from this theater,” Harris said. “The talent we have in Sherman is unlike any other. There are hundreds of people that are waiting to stage. They just may not know that it is here or they are too afraid to come and audition. There is so much talent in this area. I just want to see its continual growth and preservation as we move into the next seasons. We are growing no matter what obstacles we face.”
Harold Hill will be played by Eric Vest. Marian Paroo will be played by Jennifer Becherer and Sebastian Murdoch will be taking on the role of Tommy Djilas.
“The first time I came to SCP, my daughter had convinced me to audition,” Becherer said. “My daughter and her friends were sitting there waiting their turn and they said to me, ‘Mrs. Becherer you can sing. Are you going to get up there and audition?’ I said oh no. The more I sat there, they kept asking. I realized that I could not be bested by a group of little girls so I got up there and did it. I got cast in my first show.”
The audition was easier than the first show because Becherer said when she auditioned, she had no expectation. But that was when she fell in love with theater.
“I was 39 doing my first show and this is my eighth show,” she said. “I am on the board for SCP. I usually come to auditions just to show my support. I was not expecting to get cast, but I got cast in one of the top roles.”
Becherer said she cannot wait for the audience to hear the cast sing “Lida Rose/Will I Ever Tell You.” Becherer is singing with the quartet.
“I want people to feel how much heart has gone into the show,” she said. “There are so many personalities and people from so many different backgrounds. We have all come together every night to put the show together. It really is an act of love. I want people to feel good. If we can give them that then we have done a good job. I want them to leave a little lighter in their step because they have had a full night of entertainment.”
Murden acted in the Theatricks show “Robin Hood.” He also appeared in “Peter Rabbit” and “The Wizard of Oz.” He starred as Ralphie Parker in the December 2017 SCP production of “A Christmas Story.”
“I just love acting in general,” Murden said. “This is one of my favorite places to be in general. Everyone is so welcoming. You get to work with really nice people backstage, onstage and in all departments.”
This role is a bit different for Murden because there is a lot more choreography than he is used it. He said that while this is his first time having a speaking role in a musical, he has really enjoyed being able to act and sing in one play.
“I think my favorite play I have been in was ‘Christmas Story,’” he said. “That was fun to be in.”
The one theme from “The Music Man” that Murden wants people to take with them is that positivity is keep.
“You go through life and think about it however you want to, but if you can’t be positive, there is no point,” he said. “You have to be positive most of the time.”