The Music Man

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1957 Broadway
1980 Broadway revival

The Music Man is a musical with book, music, and lyrics by Meredith Willson, based on a story by Willson and Franklin Lacey. The plot concerns con man Harold Hill, who poses as a boys' band organizer and leader and sells band instruments and uniforms to naive townsfolk before skipping town with the cash. In River City, Iowa, prim Marian the librarian sees through him, but when Hill helps her younger brother, Marian begins to fall in love with Harold. Harold, in turn falling for Marian, risks being caught to win her.

In 1957, the show became a hit on Broadway, winning five Tony Awards, including Best Musical, and running for 1,375 performances. The cast album won the first Grammy Award for "Best Original Cast Album". The show's success led to revivals and a popular 1962 film adaptation and a 2003 television remake. It frequently is produced by both professional and amateur theater companies.

Contents

Background

Meredith Willson was inspired by his boyhood in Mason City, Iowa, in writing and composing his first musical, The Music Man.[1] Willson had begun developing this theme in his 1948 memoir, And There I Stood With My Piccolo.[2] He first approached producers Cy Feuer and Ernest Martin for a television special, and then MGM producer Jesse L. Lasky. After these and other unsuccessful attempts, Willson invited Franklin Lacey to help him edit and simplify the libretto. At this time, Willson considered eliminating a long piece of dialogue about the serious trouble facing River City parents. Willson realized it sounded like a lyric, and transformed it into the now-famous song, "Ya Got Trouble".[3] Willson wrote about his trials and tribulations in getting the show to Broadway in his book But He Doesn't Know The Territory.

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