WOOSTER — Sheryl Villegas fell in love with the experiences and people that make Summer Stage Wooster feel like family. So when the 2019 production of “The Music Man” was postponed, Villegas said she felt terrible.
“I was waiting and hoping,” Villegas said. “I think there was a resurgence of COVID around December and into January and I thought ‘Oh my God, this can’t be undone anymore. I just can’t go through that again.
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All that waiting came to an end this spring when Villegas was cast as one of 62 actors who are part of this year’s production of “The Music Man.”
Opening night is at 7 p.m. on July 23 with additional shows on July 24 and July 29-31. Tickets can be purchased online at summerstagewooster.org or at the doors of Wooster High School Performing Arts Center on the day of the show.
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The ups and downs of production
Although pushing production back three years ago wasn’t the original plan, director Todd Patterson said it had its upsides. With the extra time, Patterson was able to do more research on the show and see a Broadway production to get some ideas.
The story of “The Music Man” shows a traveling salesman who comes to a small town in Iowa and tries to rip off the people who live there, Patterson explained. As the story unfolds, audiences can see the salesman and the other characters he meets come together through the music.
The story is set in the early 1900s, and there were several challenges, Patterson said, to ensure the clothing, props and decor reflected the period.
For example, Patterson said, they had trouble finding a pre-built wagon. The production team ended up buying four wagon wheels and building their own, with the addition of a fabricated horse to pull it.
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Music manager Toni Shreve said she faces her own challenges with ongoing COVID safety protocols. To help limit the spread of any illnesses, the cast and crew wore masks during rehearsals, which Shreve said sometimes made it difficult for everyone to hear him.
“We’re all trying to stay as healthy as possible,” Shreve said. “Because we don’t want one person to be unable to participate. We just want everyone to be there. They’ve worked so hard.”
The cast and crew of “The Music Man” step forward and reunite
Patterson said it was wonderful to see so many people come together for the show, because family is a big part of what they do.
“Part of our band’s foundation involves families,” Patterson said. “… I want families to have something to do together over the summer and the musical theater is great as there is something for everyone.”
Whether they’re involved in setting design, lighting or performing on stage, Patterson said, he’s grateful for the hard work of the members and hopes the patriotic themes throughout the story will make the happy people.
“This musical is a great fit for our community,” Patterson said. “There’s a patriotic theme, which we could all use a little to feel a little better about what’s going on.”
Contact Rachel Karas at [email protected]
On Twitter: @RachelKaras3