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Published: Thursday, 11/9/2006

Classic musicals are on tap

Theatergoers in the area will be tapping their toes as three community theaters present classic musicals.

Oregon Community Theatre debuted 20 years ago with The Music Man, and it revisits the play for its first production of the 2006-07 season.

Reed Steele, the lead flight director for the Challenger Learning Center of Lucas County, directs the Meredith Willson classic, which opened on Broadway in 1957 and spawned a movie and countless community theater revivals.

"This is one of those shows that people keep coming to because it's a comfortable standard," Steele said. They know the music, and they continue to love it, he said.

Brett Bowling plays the lovable charlatan, "Professor" Harold Hill, who arrives in a small Iowa town, intending to make a killing by selling band instruments to parents hoping to keep their sons away from the new pool hall. He's going to take the money and run, but his intentions are thwarted by the suspicious but lovely librarian, Marian Paroo, played by Tammy Halay.

Steele calls Bowling, a student at the University of Toledo, a fine talent. "He looks the part, he plays the part, he loves the part." Halay, he says, is an OCT veteran, but this is her first starring role.

Music director Charles Neal will lead a live orchestra as it accompanies such songs as "76 Trombones," "Goodnight My Someone," and "Gary, Indiana."

And for those who think they know the show backward and forward, Steele promises a few surprises, including a cocker spaniel that plays the drums.

"The Music Man" opens tomorrow in the auditorium of Fassett Middle School, 3025 Starr Ave., Oregon. Presented by Oregon Community Theatre, performances are at 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 3 p.m. Nov. 19. Tickets are $14 for adults and $10 for seniors and students. Information: 419-691-1398.

Meet Me in St. Louis opens tomorrow for a three-week run in the Fremont Community Theatre.

The classic family musical, based on the 1944 movie that starred Judy Garland and Margaret O'Brien, is set in St. Louis during the 1904 World's Fair, which most of the large and loving Smith family eagerly anticipates attending. Only Esther, the second-oldest daughter, isn't as enthusiastic, but that's because she has fallen under the spell of the son of a family that just moved into the neighborhood. Then the unthinkable happens: Father announces he's been offered a promotion, which includes a transfer to New York City.

The show is known for songs such as "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas," "The Trolley Song," and "The Boy Next Door."

Elizabeth Stetzel of Fremont directs a large cast drawn from the Ohio communities of Clyde, Bellevue, Fremont, Genoa, Gibsonburg, Green Springs, Pemberville, Port Clinton, and Woodville.

"Meet Me in St. Louis" opens tomorrow and runs through Nov. 26 in Fremont Community Theatre, 1551 Dickinson St., Fremont. Performances are 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 2 p.m. Sundays. Tickets are $12 for adults and $10 for seniors and children. Information: 419-332-0695.

Singing and dancing will be the order of the day when the River Raisin Centre Music Theatre Company presents Anything Goes in Monroe. The comedic romance features an abundance of silly situations and mistaken identities aboard an ocean liner, set to such Cole Porter songs as "Anything Goes," "It's De-Lovely," and "I Get a Kick Out of You."

"Anything Goes" is scheduled at 8 p.m. tomorrow and Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday in the River Raisin Centre for the Arts, 114 South Monroe St., Monroe. Tickets are $24 for adults, $22 for seniors, and $12 for students. Information: 734-242-7722.

- Nanciann Cherry

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