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JCC to Deliver 'The Music Man'

'The Music Man' comes to life at the JCC. Check out the story for the full details.

From the community -

Audiences won’t believe their eyes when Jewish Community Center (JCC) Chicago’s Young Actors Ensemble (YAE) brings to stage The Music Man, but that’s just fine; JCC theater manager Robert Bouwman definitely doesn’t want anyone taken in by all the pomp and circumstance. 

The Music Man demonstrates the power of Illusion and self-deception,” said Bouwman. He plans to use the set, costumes, and performances to highlight subtle concepts embedded in the popular play. Bouwman’s innovative approach lends the family-friendly play deeper meaning for older and more introspective audience members. “Our interpretation will translate sight into insight for the audience.” 

The Music Man features traveling salesman Harold Hill, who fabricates a delinquency problem in River City, to convince the townspeople to invest in a boys’ band. Although the “Trouble” Hill intones is exaggerated and he doesn’t know a trombone from a treble clef, Hill’s charisma and the townspeople’s anticipation lead them to ignore suspicions and willingly embrace the fantasy. Even Marion, who initially refuses to be drawn in by Hill’s deception, ultimately supports Hill’s lies, because they have invigorated the town and Marion’s introverted brother, Winthrop. Hill, too, is captivated by his own delusion, becoming attached to the town and falling in love with Marion. As Hill admits, “I always think there's a band, kid.” 

“Reality is inconvenient to the desire to believe,” said Bouwman. “The characters let Hill persuade them that they are seeing what they want to see, not what is really there.” Bouwman represents these illusions through sparse sets and glaringly absent props. For example, when Hill gives Winthrop his cornet case, they exclaim over the instrument’s beauty, but the audience will note the case is actually empty. 

Although produced in 1957, the play is set in 1912; JCC’s production marks the 100-year anniversary of Harold Hill’s arrival in River City. Like many elements of the play, the 100 year anniversary is not only an illusion, but an anachronism (a chronological inconsistency). "Trouble" contains references to both Captain Billy's Whiz Bang, a monthly humor magazine first published in 1919, and the nonalcoholic Bevo, first produced in 1916. Hill claims to have graduated from Gary Conservatory of Music in '05, however, the town wasn't built until '06. 

In celebration of Hill’s anniversary, children are invited to join the cast at an instrument-making workshop on Sunday May 20 at noon, between performances. On Thursday, May 17 at 6.15pm, join a discussion with musical educator Anita Silvert on Jewish Connections to The Music Man. Both special events are free with ticket purchase to The Music Man

Don’t miss out on the big show, or you’ll surely have trouble! The production features enthusiastic and memorable musical numbers, a barbershop quartet, and a full cast of crazy Iowans. May 10-20, in the Elaine and Zollie Frank Theater, Mayer Kaplan JCC, 5050 Church Street, in Skokie. Tickets are $12 for adults and $8 for children (7 and under) in advance, $15 for adults and $10 for children at the door.  They can be purchased in advance by emailing tickets@gojcc.org or by calling the box office at 847.763.3518. Group discounts are available to groups of 10 or more. 

Cast includes, 19 children and 9 adults, Katie Albrecht (Glenview), Haia Bchiri (Skokie), Lena Bromberg (Skokie), Eli Chubin (Skokie), Mollie Chubin (Skokie), Tzippy David (Chicago), Tom Denman (Wilmette), Celia Denman (Wilmette),  Ella Denman (Wilmette), Ben Eisenstien (Skokie), Yoni Eisenstein (Skokie), Jonathan Ehrlich (Deerfield), Tera Eliasoff (Skokie), Raanan Gluck (Chicago), Janet Halperin (Des Plaines), Mia Herman (Skokie), Becky Lang (Skokie), Teri Lang (Skokie), Ellen Marshall (Morton Grove), Adam Rubinberg (Skokie), Sam Rosenfeld (Skokie), Natalie Rudman (Chicago), Corey Rudman (Chicago), Joanna Starr Poulos (Chicago), Gayle Starr (Detroit),  Leah Sherin (Wilmette), Sari Steinberg (Skokie), Jonathan Stopek (Chicago). 

About the JCC’s Young Actors Ensemble 
The JCC Young Actors Ensemble produces three shows per year. The group is unique because it’s structured to include the entire Jewish community; the troupe never rehearses or performs on Shabbat or religious holidays.www.gojcc.org/theater 

About Jewish Community Center of Chicago 
JCC Chicago is a nonprofit organization dedicated to ensuring a strong and vibrant Jewish life and community for generations to come. Bringing Jewish values to life to more than 24,000 participants, more than 1.4 million times each year, JCC Chicago touches, engages and connects all segments of the Jewish community at all ages and at all stages of life.

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