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Con-man hits the stage in annual homecoming musical

Questionable “professor” Harold Hill and the residents of River City, IA, make their way to Hardeman Auditorium this weekend for the annual homecoming musical.

This year’s musical is a production of Meredith Wilson’s “The Music Man” chosen by a committee consisting of several members including Director Barbara Berard and Music Director and Producer Kyle Pullen.

Pullen said one of the reasons the committee selected the The Music Man was because the personality of the cast is a perfect fit for the characters in the production.

“It was a long process, we went through several shows,” Pullen said. “We look at the cast that we think we’ll have — that’s the main thing. You really look at your personalities. ‘The Music Man’ came up and we looked at the parts and figured out we had a good fit for that.”

According to Pullen, this production is his favorite since his time at Oklahoma Christian University.

“It’s a little bit more sarcastic humor and it’s constantly funny and high-energy with a few little, slow love songs in between,” Pullen said. “I think it’s the most entertaining show we’ve put on here.”

“The Music Man” features main character Hill, a salesman who jumps from town to town selling instruments with the false intentions of creating a band for youth. But every time before the band is created, Hill skips town.

Eventually, Hill lands in River City where he intends on tricking the residents into the same scheme. However, a certain librarian makes it difficult for him to succeed in his plan.

Senior Alex Wiggs plays the lead of Hill and said he was drawn to the role because of the character’s dynamicity.

“Professor Harold Hill is a charming and confident conman who poses as a traveling salesman,” Wiggs said. “I was interested in this character because he is very iconic, and he has such an influence on the citizens of River City, where the music takes place.”

Wiggs said one of his favorite aspects of being a part of the musical is connecting with other cast members.

“I’ve most enjoyed getting to spend time with the cast during rehearsals,” Wiggs said. “We’ve really connected and had a lot of fun. This experience has been unforgettable because of them.”

According to Wiggs, the show offers not only comic relief, but also a deeper message for individuals to look beyond the exterior.

“I’m excited for the audience to see all the beautiful sets and costumes, but I also think the show has some underlying social commentary to offer,” Wiggs said. “It offers insight into the human tendency to be attracted to surface-level flashiness and sort of makes fun of that tendency in a lighthearted way.”

Senior Andrea Ochoa plays the role of Marian Paroo, River City’s librarian, who is one of the only residents skeptical of Hill’s intentions.

Ochoa said one of the many reasons she is excited to play Paroo is because of the character’s authenticity.

“What I’ve enjoyed most about playing Marian is how she is a real person,” Ochoa said. “She is one of the very few characters in the show who actually makes a transformation. She can be spiteful, courageous, lovable, shy, angry, heartbroken and much more.”

According to Ochoa, participating in the annual production allows her to grow not only as a performer, but also allows her to build lifelong friendships.

“The homecoming musicals have given me some of the greatest friends I’ve ever had, and they’ve taught me so much about being a performer,” Ochoa said. “Being in a rehearsal with your peers three to five hours, five nights a week, makes people become very close. There isn’t a bond like the one you share with your stage family.”

Ochoa said she encourages students, faculty and alumni to come out and enjoy the work the music department put into the production.

“Come and support your fellow students in all of their hard work,” Ochoa said. “Support the arts, support the music program. The show is entertaining, heartwarming, hilarious and so much more. It would be a shame to miss.”

 “The Music Man” will premiere Thursday, Nov. 3, and the musical will also have showings Friday and Saturday.

Each showing will begin at 7:30 p.m. More information and ticket sales are available online.

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