Ascension Community Theatre bringing musical classic to stage
GONZALES — Summertime for teachers usually means a break from the classroom.
For St. Amant High’s Heidi Alford Frederic and Mark Lambert, the “classroom” is now the Pasqua Theatre stage and the “students” are the cast of The Music Man.
Frederic, who teaches theater, and Lambert, who teaches math, are directing and co-directing, respectively, Ascension Community Theatre’s summer musical.
“It’s like teaching, you have to be patient,” Frederic said just before the start of rehearsals on June 27.
“It’s run very efficiently,” Lambert agreed.
“This is a show of teachers. Our stage manager is one of our colleagues, and our music director is the choir teacher out here. In the rest of the cast, we probably have four or five teachers,” Frederic said.
Likewise, it’s a show of families.
“We have people coming back that have enjoyed being in these shows, with their children, when we can do a family-friendly show like this. And when we started this process, there were a lot of people that approached us and said this is the first show I ever saw, the first show they had ever done,” the director said.
The Music Man is a theatrical musical staple, produced frequently by professional and amateur theater companies. The musical, with book, lyrics and music by Meredith Wilson, is based on a story by Wilson and Franklin Lacy. It was a hit on Broadway, has had several revivals, was made into a film and remade for television. In the show, a con man named Harold Hill comes to the small town of River City, Iowa, posing as a boys’ band organizer and leader who sells band instruments and uniforms to naive parents before skipping town with the cash. He doesn’t plan, however, on falling in love with prim librarian and piano teacher Marian Paroo while he’s in River City. Popular musical numbers include “Seventy-six Trombones,” “Goodnight Ladies” and “Till There Was You.”
“We really wanted to make it our own rather than recreate the movie version or the stage version. We wanted to make it about the family and about the band, and about the town, and I think we’ve really done that, in the choreography and in the cast that we’ve chosen,” Frederic said.
Frederic said she and Lambert collaborated on a set design which will look different as well. The set was built by Frederic’s father, Jimmy Alford, and some of the men in the cast.
“Everyone remembers Harold Hill and Marian, but it’s truly about this community welcoming this outsider who has his faults certainly, by conning them out of their money, but he ends up falling in love not only with Marian, but with this whole community, and I think that’s very indicative of what we have going on here at ACT,” Lambert said.
Lambert, a former member of the LSU Tiger Band, said this production is right up his alley.
Initially, he planned to audition for a role in the show or in the orchestra, until Frederic asked him to help her direct. After auditions, with all the men being cast, there was still a space for Lambert in the barbershop quartet where he took the role of Ewart Dunlop.
Landing the lead role as Hill was theater veteran Kevin White.
“I wanted to try to make him a little more slick, a little more sleazy than the movie version (in 1962 starring Robert Preston and Shirley Jones), and then try to bring him out of it. Just a little more range in him,” White said.
Playing Marian is Christina Lewis, who has a background in opera, but who’s also been in two previous ACT musicals.
“Marian’s the librarian. She has to stick with the old, tried and true. Toward the end, she kind of relaxes, lets someone into her life,” Lewis said.
Both White and Lewis said they appreciate the style of directing going on with this show.
“They tell you exactly what they want, but they also give us the liberty to do things as our own actor, how the character might do it. They let us express ourselves as individual actors,” Lewis said.
“This has been a joy,” White added.
- CAST: Kevin White, Professor Harold Hill; Christina Lewis, Marian Paroo; David Gambino, Marcellus; Mary McConnell, Mrs. Paroo; Mark Albano, Winthrop; Rick Esposito, Mayor Shinn; Gaye Lynn Ambeau, Eulalie Shinn; Lee Ann Hernandez, Zaneeta Shinn; Jordan Simoneaux, Gracie Shinn; Joey McCreary, Tommy; Kendall Claire Lamont, Amaryllis; Dane Thibodeaux, Jacey Squires; Mark Lambert, Ewart Dunlop; Bill Bozzelle, Oliver Hix; Courtney Clouatre, Olin Britt; Rebecca Harris, Ethel Toffelmier; Andrea Delatte, Mrs. Squires; Jean LaCour, Maud Dunlop; Lisa Albano, Alma Hix; Shanon Collins and Carla Westbrook, “Pick a Little” Chorus; Wayne Attuso, Conductor/Constable; James Albano, John Albano, Travis Daigle, Jackson Frederic, Tanner LaCour, Coy Moran and Phillip Moran, Male Chorus; Katie Burleigh, Katie Collins, Emily Collins, Chloe Castello, Meg Dunn, Vaneya Lewis, Michaelynn Parks, Rachelle Popularas, Allie Waguespack, Madison Westbrook, Mason Westbrook, Female Chorus.
- ARTISTIC STAFF: Heidi Alford Frederic, director; Mark Lambert, assistant director; Dustin Delaune, intern director; Erin Perdue, musical director; Jack Wilson, technical director; Kristin Blair, Danielle Bourque, Karen Carlson and Alyssa Kling, choreographers; Danielle deLaune, stage manager; Jimmy Alford, set designer; Gaye Lynn Ambeau and Carla Westbrook, costumers; Cory Caro and Lance Jaeger, technical crew; Reese Perkins and Landon Trosclair, backstage crew.