February 14, 2003


Broderick gets to twist, shout in 'Music Man' (PHIL ROSENTHAL, February 14, 2003, Chicago Sun-Times)
Come on. Look at that face. Broderick's putative music teacher may not actually toot his own clarinet here ("Never took one lesson!"), but it is impossible to look at his Hill turning on his boyish charm, singing, dancing, leading a parade and generally holding sway in this three-hour musical...without seeing the ever-modern Ferris wheel and deal his way out of trouble time and again.

This could have posed a problem (with a small p) for this turn-of-the-20th-century tale set in a preciously quaint town that puts the colic in bucolic.

Fortunately, leather-lunged elfin Kristin Chenoweth's Marian the librarian steals the show out from under the con man.

Professor Hill, as played to a blustery tee by Robert Preston, may have owned Willson's 1957 Broadway hit and the subsequent 1962 movie that set the stage (and tone) for many a high school production.

But the star of this "Music Man"--from the producers of the Oscar-nominated "Chicago" and ABC's brilliant revival of "Annie" a couple years back--is not the music man, but the female foil who initially, until melted by Hill's charm, is so tight that she could squeeze a properly placed lump of coal into a diamond.

Meredith Willson's The Music Man (Ken Tucker, Entertainment Weekly)
Broderick, slight of frame and thin of voice, can't fit into Preston's brogans, but he dances nimbly and can rattle off Hill's con spiels with impressive speed. I just have a little trouble believing that this sweet-faced fellow could really bamboozle the town into buying his expensive instruments and band uniforms while hiding the fact that he doesn't know how to read or teach a note of music.

Still, with the grand aid of Chenoweth as his romantic partner, Broderick actually becomes an example of author Willson's central idea -- that sincerity and idealism, coated with true love, can overcome limitations of skill. Just as Harold Hill gains deserved authority by bringing joy and pride to River City as he instills his young charges with boldness and falls in genuine love with Marian, so does Broderick's performance in ''The Music Man'' gather strength and zip as the TV movie proceeds. Showcasing fine, funny turns by Molly Shannon as Garber's dippy but earnest wife and Debra Monk as Marian's big-hearted mother, as well as the choreography of Kathleen Marshall (who knows how to scale down big stage effects for the intimacy of the television cameras), this is a ''Music Man'' that'll have you marching around the living room, leading your own parade of gratefulness for such a glowing evening of entertainment.

EW Grade: A-

It's great that their showing this American classic, and it'll be a worthy change of pace from the typical garbage on network TV, but why not just show the definitive original? Posted by Orrin Judd at February 14, 2003 3:23 PM
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