The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

April 10, 2011

'Music Man' marching into Pasquerilla center

BY RUTH RICE
RRICE@TRIBDEM.COM

— We got trouble right here in the Flood City.

Fast-talking traveling salesman Harold Hill will be the center of attention when “The Music Man” hits the stage at 7:30 p.m. April 26 at Pasquerilla Performing Arts Center, Richland Township.

John Adkison of Sonora, Calif., is fulfilling a lifelong dream by portraying Hill.

“I’ve wanted to play him my whole life,” Adkison said from Spokane, Wash. “He’s the reason I’m in show business. I saw the movie as a kid. My life story has been leading up to this moment.”

“The Music Man” takes place in the small town of River City, Iowa, in 1912.

Professor Harold Hill cons the townspeople into buying musical instruments and uniforms for a boy’s band, planning to skip town with the cash, but his plans fall apart when he falls in love with Marian, the town’s librarian.

Classic songs will include “Ya Got Trouble,” “Seventy-Six Trombones,” “Goodnight My Someone,” “Gary, Indiana” and “Till There Was You.”

The all-American musical is the winner of six Tony Awards, beating out “West Side Story” for Best Musical.

The original cast included Tony-Award winners Robert Preston as Harold Hill and Barbara Cook as Marian.

Preston went on to reprise his role in the 1962 screen adaptation of “The Music Man.”

The play also won Tony Awards for best featured actor in a musical, best conductor and musical director and best stage technician.

Adkison has performed in the show’s ensemble several times, but this tour has been his first time stepping into the con man’s shoes.

“I love what I do, playing Harold Hill every night,” Adkison said. “It’s a joy to go out and play, a total blast.

“The show is so well-written and well-crafted, it’s not hard to do. It’s well-structured and well-paced. I have breaks off stage.”

While some might say Adkison has the hardest work portraying the lead role, he believes that honor goes to the dancers in the show.

“I marvel at what they can do,” he said. “I just go out and talk.”

When “The Music Man” hits Johns-town, Adkison said it will be postage-stamp Broadway, with the stage crammed full of sets from the Broadway revival of the show.

The costumes also will be from the revival, and an eight-piece band travels with the show.

Sounding much like the fast-talking Hill, Adkison said the show is a full-scale production, a sure-fire hit.

“Unless the audience is asleep, they will have a good time,” he said. “We’ve gotten a terrific response. It’s a pleasure to bring this caliber of a show.”

The play is being produced by Windwood Productions, whose credits include national tours of “Cabaret,” “Bye Bye Birdie,” “Altar Boyz” and “Little Women.”

A professional actor for 18 years, Adkison acts with the Sierra Repertory Theater in Sonora, where he does three or four roles a year and has served as its music director.

“I probably know more about music than Harold Hill,” he said. “Live theater is the beginning and end of being an actor.”

When not on the stage, Adkison works as a substitute teacher and does video production work.