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Saskatoon Summer Player’s Music Man is a summer treat for the whole family


By Ezekiel McAdams


June 19 2024

Saskatoon Summer Players The Music Man Poster.png

  Saskatoon Summer Players is celebrating its 60th season with a production of the classic Broadway musical, The Music Man from 1957. This is their third production of The Music Man by the company. Previous productions were in 1972 and 1996.

  Summer Players' production of The Music Man is a fun, delightful romp for families. With wonderful choreography, dancing, infectious show tunes and a nostalgic vibe and ascetic that can’t help put a smile on your face.

  This production has an ensemble of forty five, which includes a full children’s section, one of the largest in the company’s tenure


  This production from June 14-23 2024 and unitizes the Persephone Theatre’s main stage as their venue.


  Directed by longtime Summer Players director, Ron Knoll, the main cast stars Greg Malin as Professor Harold Hill, Ashley Smith as Marian Paroo and Blair Pisio as Charlie Cowell.


  The secondary cast consists of Vern Bennett (Mayor Shinn), Chrissy Krowchenko (Mrs. Paroo)  Elspeth McShane (Amrylis), Graham Lehert (Marcellus Washburn), Aron DoSouto (Eulie Mackecknie),.Scott Eaton (Conductor/Tommy Djilas), Madeline Abrey (Zaneeta Shin) with Clark Willoughby and Jake Loshack  sharing the role of Winthrop Paroo.   


  The barbershop quartet consists of Patrick Ollenberger (Ewrat Dunlop), Jordie Hughton (Oliver Hix), Brady Moore (Jacey Squires) and Zak Stinson (Olin Brit)


  The supporting cast includes Andrea Armstrong (Alma Hix), Elise Parsonage (Maud Dunlop), Monica Deschner (Ethlel Toffelmier), Alex Hodson (Mrs. Squires), Bobby Willinston (Constable Locke) and Isabella Thomas (Gracie Shinn).

Cast of SSP's The Music Man 2024 _ Nicole Stevenson Photography.JPG
Cast of SSP's The Music Man (2) _ Nicole Stevenson Photography.JPG

  The whole production is run with the support of volunteers from the actors and crew, which makes it a really incredible feat to pull of both as classic and spectacle..


  The music is a product of its time consisting more of large dance numbers then dialogue or character development.  


  Malin as the conman the titular “Music Man” is just as charismatic and confident as the character he plays. Malin has an ability to engage with the audience that makes you feel you’re part of the production.

  Smith as librarian and music teacher, Marian Paroo is captivating and engrossing with her powerful vocal range. Her range is quite distinctive and powerful. The character doesn’t get a lot to do or have much character development so Smith is limited to what was in the original source material.

Greg Malin, Ashley Smith (l-r) _ Nicole Stevenson Photography.JPG

  Pisio is memorable in his sparse appearances as Charlie Cowell, a fellow salesman who’s mission is to reveal Hill’s scheme. Pisio is using an affection that could almost be described as part “southern charm” dialect but also drawing from Jimmy Stewart’s known vocal traits.


  The ensemble is large but highlights include Bennett as the Mayor who is both gregarious and in constant state of frustration of Hill’s antics and a teenage troublemaker vying for his daughter’s affections.. Bennett evokes bluster, pompousness and is very entertaining throughout the production.


  Chrissy Krowchenko who played Marion’s mum, had a very grounding yet nosey presence that was common troupe when this musical first premiered. However Krowchenko elevates her role to a more nuanced mother figure albeit leaning back into the troupes when the story called for it. Krowchenko utilized an Irish dialect as the character is Irish, and while the accent slipped in and out a few times. It never took you out of the production, as you were entertained and along for the ride.    


  Aron DoSouto as the Mayor’s wife, Eulie Mackecknie Shinn waltzed throughout the production commanding every scene he was in and making it memorable.


  Lehert does a good job balancing trying to shed his con man ways but also can’t help but care and get involved in Hill’s antics. Lehert did a good establishing a rapport and history between the two men that felt natural.


  The performances of the child actors of Willoughby and McShane were great for their age, they felt natural and really added to the ensemble.

Brady Moore, Patrick Ollenberger, Jordie Hughton, Zak Stinson _ Nicole Stevenson Photograp

  The Barbershop quartet of Ollenberger, Houghton, Moore and Stinson deserves special mention for carrying a nice through line throughout the production that continued the timeless ambience the production imbued.


  The direction by Knoll is quite astounding when you think of the wrangling of the large ensemble (many of them being children), a large orchestra and multiple dance numbers that included the entire ensemble multiple times. This particular production ran smooth, it certainly didn’t feel like it was a two and half duration.


  The music direction by Ali Peters was phenomenal as she’s dealing with a large contingent of volunteer musicians consisting of twenty one piece orchestra. The music was crucial to maintaining the spell that production holds over you.


  Brenda Bennett as Choreographer, deserves a lot of credit for wrangling a large ensemble and having the cast be not only proficient, but have synchronicity that added to he overall charm that was present throughout.


  The set design by Rick Boychuck helped maintain the time period the production is set in and using the resources they had, so the painted backdrops just added to this magic world that the company immersed you in.

  This is a delightful romp that will entertain, engross and charm audiences especially families and it is a wonderful showstopper to celebrate Saskatoon Summer Players' sixtieth season.

  Saskatoon Summer Players' The Music Man is playing at Persephone’s main stage from June 14-23 2024. Tickets can be bought online here or at the box office

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