So, if you read the previous post, you know that I am watching the remake of “The Music Man” on ABC-TV. The 1962 film adaptation of the stage musical is one of my favorites. But there’s something wrong with this made-for-tv version: it’s too darned fast! It’s only 30 minutes into the thing, and we’re already into “76 Trombones” – hell, he met Marcellus only a moment after he stepped off the train. It seems as though the story line is still there, but all pushed together. Scenes that once stood alone are now combined into one. It’s like it’s been through one of those digital compression devices that scrunch down a program to allow more commercials. It’s an odd feeling, but I can’t put my finger on just what – and how much – has been cut from the show to achieve this hyperkinetic pace.
Also, I expected a “different” version of this show, but–aside from a different cast, a few different lyrics, and a more authentic realization of River City–this is a remake of the film, even down to some of the same camera shots and sets. The scene where Amarylis is playing the piano are exact down to the camera pushing in through the window by rustling curtains. I would have preferred an original interpretation of Meredith Willson’s masterpiece rather than a re-do of Morton DaCosta’s* fantastic film.
I’ll admit that Clyde Alves‘ Tommy Djilas is as cute as Timmy Everett’s turn in the role in 1962. But Zaneeta’s “ye gods” is not nearly as annoying… which is disappointing. Molly Shannon is funny, but simply can’t compare to the glorious Hermione Gingold as the broadly portrayed Mrs. Shinn. Kristin Chenowith’s Marian is far too worldy, mean, and bitter. Amazingly, the one actor that has been receiving the most suspicion is Matthew Broderick – but he seems to be quite good! He seems to be pulling off the role of an innocent looking cad.
* Morton DaCosta, an accomplished stage director, also put the play “Auntie Mame” on film. The Music Man and Auntie Mame are the only two films in which Da Costa used a unique lighting effect that came to be known as the Da Costa Iris. He recreated the feeling of the stage by fading out all lighting except for one spot isolating the main character, then fading to black. The result was magical! Wanna learn more about Morton Da Costa? Read The Great Movie Musical Trivia Book by Jeff Kurtti, an acquaintance of mine. From stories that most fans know to trivia even the die-hard nuts didn’t, this book is a great companion for some of our favorite musicals.