Vital Stats: Year: 1962 Director: Morton DaCosta Stars: Robert Preston, Shirley Jones, Buddy Hackett, Hermione Gingold, and a very cute (lisping) Ron Howard Writer: Meredith Wilson Choreographer: Onna White
Summary: Traveling salesman Professor Harold Hill arrives in River City, Iowa and begins working his con: selling band instruments and uniforms and instruction books, organizing a boys' band with himself as the leader. He's got everything perfectly timed right down to the last train out of town -- until he gets his foot caught in the door by falling in love with the local librarian.
Memorable Moments: The beautiful "Till There Was You", the rousing "Seventy-Six Trombones", and the cautionary "Ya Got Trouble" are the stand outs. But the "Shipoopi" dance, arrival of the Wells Fargo Wagon, barbershop quartet songs, and contrapuntal melodies are also pretty swell.
What I love about it: Probably because he perfected the role on Broadway, Robert Preston is perfectly charming as the fast-talking con man. When I saw the show on Broadway myself several years ago, the lead actor did his best Robert Preston impression for the part, and I don't know that there's any other way to play it. (Well, Matthew Broderick tried in the 2003 TV version, but his lethargic performance left me cold.)
I also love the rapid-fire delivery and broken up syllables of the songs. "Rock Island" and "Trouble" are especially snappy, but the other songs have great lyrics, too. Take "Marian the Librarian" as an example: "It's a long lost cause I can never win/For the civilized world accepts as unforgivable sin/Any talking out loud with any librarian/Such as Marian..." The songs make for a mouthful of words quite fun to memorize and repeat. And shouldn't any good musical leave you singing?