I have a soft spot for Broadway revivals. Depending on the season, I’m usually either excited or neutral about new, original musicals, but nothing beats seeing gorgeous, full-blown productions of the shows I grew up loving. I’m still waiting for a revival of The Music Man, but in the meantime, I had the pleasure of seeing My Fair Lady at Lincoln Center’s Vivian Beaumont Theater last week. While it’s never been one of my favorites, I’ve always adored My Fair Lady‘s score, and seeing it on such a grand scale was wonderful.
Following Cockney flower girl Eliza Doolittle’s mission to improve her dialect with lessons from linguistics expert Professor Henry Higgins, this revival originally opened in April. TV star Lauren Ambrose played Eliza Doolittle, and after scoring a Tony nomination, she left the production to film a TV series. Acclaimed Broadway star Laura Benanti, who I’ve grown to love for her humor and great social media presence, then stepped into what she has long described as her dream role. She joined original company members Harry Hadden-Paton as Henry Higgins and Norbert Leo Butz as Alfred Doolittle.
The last Dream Casting blog I did was for Into the Woods, and today I wanted to do another Dream Casting for one of those classic shows I saw so many community productions of while growing up. The Music Man probably has my favorite overall score of any show – the songs are so easy to catch onto and are fun yet beautiful.
I think a huge part of The Music Man‘s initial appeal is Robert Preston in the title role both in the original Broadway production and in the film. Any other Harold Hill, professional or amateur, seems to fail in comparison because they’re (consciously or not) trying to emulate Preston’s unique style.
This may be why Broadway revivals of The Music Man are few and far between. There was a 1980 production with Dick Van Dyke that’s considered a revival, but it lasted less than a month after its opening. The 2000 production with Rebecca Luker and Craig Bierko lasted a little over a year and a half, which is a pretty standard run for a revival, but those are huge gaps between versions. What with Carousel and My Fair Lady being revived next year, there isn’t much room for another large-scale classic from that era, but I’m hoping for a Music Man revival in the next few years! So, I lived vicariously by casting my dream company of the show.
Harold Hill – James Monroe Iglehart or Seth MacFarlane
Seth MacFarlane is often the Internet’s choice for an ideal Harold Hill because he performed a very Preston-esque rendition of “Ya Got Trouble” at BBC Proms. I have to admit, I forgive Seth for all of his gross humor (ugh, remember the Oscars?) when I hear him sing musical theater, but I really don’t see him doing a Broadway show. I think he’d be a safe revival choice if producers want to please an older generation that likes their traditional musicals. However, current Hamilton star James Monroe Iglehart said in a recent interview that he would love to play Hill if non-traditional casting was embraced, and I sort of love the idea!