Vernon High to perform 'The Music Man'

Production to be 28th show under director Barri Weinstein

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  • Photo by Viktoria-Leigh Wagner Kyle Pitts, who plays Professor Harold Hill, left, is shown with Ethan Kimball, who plays Hill's sidekick, Marcellus Washburn.




  • Kyle Pitts, who plays Professor Harold Hill is shown with Brooke Harrsch, who portrays Hill's love interest, Marian Paroo.



The Music Man

What: Vernon Township High School Production of "The Music Man"
Where: Vernon Township High School, 1832 County Road 565, Glenwood.
When: Thursday, April 10, Friday, April 11, Saturday, April 12; all showtimes at 7:30 p.m.
Ticket Prices: $10 online at www.seatyourself.biz/vths or $15 at door.

One of the leads in the Vernon Township High School production of "The Music Man" called the show a classic.

Senior Kyle Pitts, 17, plays the lead role of Professor Harold Hill, a traveling music salesman, who "literally knows nothing about music."

This is the 28th production 14-year musical theatre teacher Barri Weinstein has directed at the school. This past fall, the theatre department performed "Our Town" to celebrate the show’s 75th anniversary. Now, with a cast of 60, Vernon is telling the story of, as Weinstein puts it, “the conman that came to town.”

“People who come to see the show are going to enjoy an old-fashioned musical comedy,” Weinstein said. “The cast is having a great time, which is the most important thing. When the cast is having fun, so is the audience.”

Weinstein will receive the New Jersey Governor’s Award in Arts Education for Outstanding Teacher of Speech and Theatre May 1 in Trenton.

“The show has universal appeal, so you can’t go wrong with it," said Pitts, who is in his eighth production. "That’s why I like it so much. Without spoiling too much, my character sells band instruments to kids in small towns across the Midwest. He’s a conman, and it’s a blast. I’m used to playing characters that are on the up-and-up morally, so it’s kind of cool to shift the dynamic.”

Pitts has been a part of Vernon High’s choral program all four years as a tenor and the school’s elite choral group, the Meistersingers, for three years. Additionally, Pitts is one of seven males, along with 21 females, chosen nationwide out of 1,500 applicants to be accepted specifically into the Musical Theatre program at Carnegie Mellon University’s School of Drama, Acting and Music Theatre, where he will attend in the fall.

Junior Brooke Harrsch, 17of Vernon plays Hill’s love interest, town librarian and part-time piano teacher Marian Paroo. Her sixth production at Vernon High, Harrsch has been dancing at Ziegler Dance Centre for three years. A three-year Soprano II member of the high school’s choral program, Harrsch also has been a Meistersinger for two years.

“The audition process was really stressful; I had tough competition!” Harrsch said. “But it was exciting. We’ve been rehearsing about two-and-a-half months since auditions in December. My character is an uptight, intelligent woman who doesn’t let anything get to her. She has a soft side that is not brought out until Professor Harold Hill, played by Kyle Pitts, arrives and steals her heart.”

Similarly, sophomore Ethan Kimball, 16 plays Hill’s right-hand man.

“I’m Harold’s sidekick, Marcellus Washburn,” he said. His third production at the school, Kimball is a first-year Meistersinger.

“Hill travels to River City, Iowa, and finds out his old scheming counterpart happens to be living there. Marcellus works to benefit from Harold’s attempts at swindling the townspeople,” he said. “The most challenging part for me was creating the character and getting a feel for what Marcellus would do in certain situations.”

This is the fifth production Vernon senior Elizabeth Smith, 18, has stage managed at the school.

"I'm calling my first show," she said.

Choreographed by Dana Ziegler of McAfee, who has been the choreographer for Vernon’s musicals for more than 20 years, the show features theatre jazz-style dancing.

“The cast is made up of a great group of kids,” said Choral Director Kevin Boehm, who has been the musical director for the shows for the past five years. “They have a passion for what they do, which is putting together a good production.”

The department held a private performance Wednesday, April 9, exclusively for senior citizens, who had the opportunity to see the show for free and were served dinner afterwards. Performances open to the public run Thursday, April 10th through Saturday, April 12th at 7:30 p.m. each night.

Tickets are available for $10 online at http://www.seatyourself.biz/vths or for $15 at the door.

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