GREENSBURG, PA—Saying that the iconic number simply isn’t where it needs to be at this point, nearly everyone involved in The Greensburg Playhouse production of The Music Man agreed Sunday that, if they were being perfectly honest, the song “Marian The Librarian” still needs a good bit of work.
Cast and crew members told reporters the production absolutely cannot afford to have a weak “Marian,” and said the sad truth of the matter is that the three-minute dance break remains unpolished; the Greensburg Junior High chorus members who volunteered to play students don’t know when to shut their books, open them, or sway back and forth; and that if the show were to go up tomorrow, the number would be an embarrassment.
Visibly nervous Greensburg Playhouse officials repeatedly mentioned that opening night is only nine days away.
“My honest assessment? ‘Marian The Librarian’ is at 50 percent right now, and it needs to be at 110,” said director Paul Stutzman, adding that the while Allen Bielecki and Melissa Hodge are both doing a fine job in the roles of Professor Harold Hill and Marian Paroo, the number just isn’t coming together as he’d hoped. “People are going to come here expecting a classic ‘Marian The Librarian,’ and if we don’t give it to them, we have no one to blame but ourselves. It’s certainly not up to my standards, it’s not up to Greensburg Playhouse standards, and if they’re being truthful, I think Allen and Melissa would tell you it’s not up to their standards.”
“Better to get this all out in the open now rather than the day before we open,” he added. “The funny thing is they nailed it during auditions.”
According to members of the local production, the lackluster state of “Marian The Librarian” has been the elephant in the room for quite some time, with many questioning when Bielecki and Hodge would eventually smooth out the choreography, specifically when Bielecki chases Hodge around the book cart and when Hodge stamps library cards in beat with the song.
Moreover, reports indicate that Bielecki continually has trouble with the number’s syncopated rhythms, and, in what has been a problem everyone has been too scared to talk about from day one, the 44-year-old insurance adjuster has difficulty hitting the lower notes, especially at the end of such phrases as, “If I stumbled and I busted my what-you-may-call-it/ I could lie on your floor unnoticed/ Till my body had turned to carrion…Madam Librarian.”
Of utmost concern, sources confirmed, is the emotional connection between the two characters, which to some is lacking, and to others is “barely even noticeable.”
“I honestly don’t see how this all gets fixed in nine days—I really don’t,” said lead choreographer Anne Cavalier, 56, noting that every look, every touch, and every harmless shove has to come at a precise moment in the song. “At its best, ‘Marian The Librarian’ is a meticulous, playful seduction, where, for the first time, we see that Marian Paroo is capable of letting her guard down. We see that not only is she charmed by Harold Hill, but could potentially fall in love with him. At its worst, its a total momentum killer. We’re somewhere in between.”
“The main problem is I’m not seeing Harold Hill and Marian Paroo up there,” she continued, “I’m seeing Allen Bielecki and Melissa Hodge.”
While those close to the production confirmed that “Rock Island” and “(Ya Got) Trouble” are certainly close, a great Music Man reportedly depends on a knockout “Marian The Librarian,” which many are calling the emotional lynchpin of the entire production. Some members of the cast are hopeful that the number will be ready to go by opening night, though most are quick to point out that the show is basically in dress rehearsals, and without extra effort from its two leads, it’s probably as good as it’s going to get.
Sources have confirmed that Bielecki can no longer afford to miss Thursday rehearsals and needs to find someone else to take his children to basketball practice. For her part, reports have strongly indicated that Hodge should take up Stutzman’s offer to meet her at the theater during her lunch breaks from the dentist’s office and run through the song.
With opening night looming, tensions have begun to run high. According to one cast member who wished to remain anonymous, Stutzman cut the song off early during a run-through last Saturday, asked the two lead actors if they would be happy showing it to their friends and family, and abruptly ended rehearsal.
“Paul is under a lot of pressure because the last time we did the The Music Man here it was really incredible and it set a very high bar,” said Greensburg Playhouse owner David Cesario referring to the 2005 production. “Dale Reamer and Erin Zoracki were fantastic. Really quite something.”
At press time, the two leads were huddled backstage with Stutzman as the director was overheard telling them how much of a joy it’s been to work with them, and that if they want a production they can be proud of they need to really step it up this next week.