FAIRFIELD, IOWA—On Friday, August 8, 2008, a musical about the music man who wrote The Music Man will debut at the new StephenSondheimCenter for the Performing Arts in Fairfield, Iowa. It’s a bio-musical about the youth of Meredith Willson, who also wrote The Unsinkable Molly Brown andHere’s Love. Thetwist to the story is that it takes place both in the present and in 1928. From the present, an elder Meredith Willson who has gone to “that great treble clef in the sky” goes back to get inside the head of his teenage self to “change a few notes of my life.”The main change he wants is to repair the poor relationship he had with his father.
Half of the action takes place in Meredith Willson’s home town, Mason City, Iowa (the “RiverCity” of The Music Man) and the other half in San Francisco.
The book, lyrics and music are by Randolph Hobler, a marketing consultant in Dobbs Ferry, New York, who knew Meredith Willson and has been working on the musical for over six years.The show’s original, hummable score is in the spirit of Meredith Willson, including several homages like “Sears, Dear Sears”and a catchy barbershop quartet number “The Clip-Clop Life”.Many of the songs are available in piano-voice versions online at www.banjoboys.net. The show’s showstopper, “Thanks Be to Music”is an upbeat gospel song sung by a young Louis Armstrong that Meredith meets on his way to San Francisco.
“I’m thrilled that The Sondheim Center has chosen Banjo Boy for its premiere”, Hobler said, “and what more appropriate place than Iowa to open it.”
Banjo Boy will be directed by Randal West, the Executive/Artistic Director of the SondheimCenter, who has worked with Sondheim in the past, with musical direction by Justin Hill.
Performances will run from August 8th through August 17th, including matinees on weekends. For tickets or more information call the box office at The Sondheim Center at 641-472-2787, open from noon to six weekdays, or online at www.iowatix.com.