'The Music Man' marks Liberty Theater's 10th year

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Deb Fortner as Eulalie Mackechnie Shinn, center, leads girls in "Ya Tan Wee."

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Harold Hill (Mike Ferrians) lays on the charm with librarian Marion Paroo (Shelly Franklin.)

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Director Elizabeth Arebalos-Jagelski takes notes during Tuesday's rehearsal.

DAYTON _ Saturday morning the cast of "Meredith Wilson's The Music Man" assembled outside Steve Edwards' home and sang some numbers from the musical.

Edwards directed the same show 10 years ago, and it was his hope that the play would be performed for the 10th anniversary of the Liberty Theater's live productions.

Saturday night Edwards died at age 59, after a bout with cancer.

Friday "The Music Man" opens for a 4-week run at the Liberty Theater, with many of the same cast members as 10 years ago.

The show is dedicated as a tribute to Edwards. "It's very important that people know that he has been shooting for this for some time-doing the Music Man for the 10th anniversary," director Elizabeth Arebalos-Jagelski said.

Although not all parts are played by the same people, there are a number of "repeats." The school board, played by members of the Waitsburg Quartet, continue to harmonize. The quartet members are Chuck Reeves, Jack McCaw, Bob Patton and Randy Pearson, who also plays piano.

Bill Graham appears again as Mayor Shinn, and Phil White as Constable Locke. Shelly Franklin is Marian Paroo, and Judy McDonald once again plays her mother Mrs. Paroo.

Dave Warkentin played Professor Harold Hill in the production 10 years ago, but he recently moved from the area. Professor Hill is portrayed by Mike Ferrians of Waitsburg.

Many parts have understudies, which has been "the trickiest," Arebalos-Jagelski said.

Although running sections "over and over again" to give everyone rehearsal time, having two actors for some parts has "been a dream, because if someone isn't there, there is someone there to be on stage," she said.

In a 2005 interview, Edwards said his choice of "The Music Man" wasn't an accident.

"The story of the Music Man is the story of somebody coming along and saying ‘you can do this,'" he said.

Arebalos-Jagelski said Edwards' encouragement continues to be part of preparation for performances. "Keep thinking you're a family, stay positive, stay energetic, and give your best," she said.

"He empowered us to do that. That was the constant believability. He had us believe in ourselves in a positive way."

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