The Music Man…and Me

When I was young, my parents had a reel-to-reel tape player. Do you know the kind I mean? It was one of those giant machines that played reels of tape from one spool to the other, kind of like those movie reels when we were in elementary school – those educational films your teacher always needed the Audio-Visual guy to come fix when it flap, flap, flapped around the reel?

Only this one wasn’t a movie player, it was like a giant cassette player, only without the plastic holder for the cassette.

Okay, so my parents had this tape player, and it sat on top of their huge speakers in the living room, right in front of the floor-to-ceiling windows that looked out over Puget Sound. And, every so often, while I was playing with Lego or paperdolls on the living room floor, the giant tape player was turned on. Vivaldi, Bach, taped sermons of my grandfather, and a few musicals – The Sound of Music and The Music Man being my favorites – would fill the room with glorious sound, the sub woofers letting the entire neighborhood know that Harold Hill was, indeed, a bit of a cad.

It was hard to photograph them indoors…but here are a few images to inspire you!


Little did I know then that, years later, in a different state – and certainly a different state of mind – I’d be acting in The Music Man, playing a small part in my favorite reel-to-reel musical, and confirming that yes, Harold Hill remains my favorite bad guy…musically-speaking.

It helps that he’s being played by my husband.

Some of you know that I had a small part in last year’s community theater production of Beauty and the Beast. I stumbled my way through that show, proving beyond the shadow of a doubt that I was NOT born for the theater.

At the end of the show I was relieved, exhausted, elated, and, yes, a little sad. I was also uncertain if I’d ever want to do such a thing again.

An offended Marian, the quartet,Harold Hill, Mrs. Shinn.


And then along came The Music Man. Images of that old living room, that old reel-to-reel player came to mind and I couldn’t saw no. Besides, if I actually want to see my husband this summer I might as well be a part of the production. We decided to make it a family thing. That way I don’t have to get babysitters and we can spend our evenings together at the auditorium and all five of us can stay up late, be exhausted, relieved, elated, and a little sad when it’s over.

The library scene, where Harold falls on his watchamacallit. I do not like taking pictures from far away at night…but at least it gives you an idea.


We’re deep into rehearsals now. Deep into learning lines, moves, melodies. Deep into self-doubts and late nights. And, yes, deep into the fun. Even if the fun is punctuated by moments of tongue-biting, toe-tripping, self-incrimination.

I’ll definitely post more as the production draws nearer, but for now, please support the Worthington Memorial Auditorium by buying tickets – on sale now – and attending the show on at least one of the 6 performances, August 3,4,5 or 10,11,12. The auditorium is open from 9:00a.m. – 1:00p.m. daily and its phone number is 507 376-9101. It’s great to support not only local productions like this, but to support the actors – your friends in the community.

And, let’s face it, you’ll be able to laugh at me as I lurch, stumble, and warble my way across the stage. Oh, and I promise you’ll love my Grecian Urn costume. I’m the one in green. The one tripping and squeaking…and having a ton of fun.

Winthrop, Marian, Mrs. Paroo.

4 thoughts on “The Music Man…and Me

  1. Ah, Gretchen, I think you need to hand the camera over to Harold so we can see a photo of you. Totally understand the difficulty of getting shots in a theatre. Tough. Very tough.

    Good for your family to do this together. I know it’s a huge commitment of time and energy. Break a leg!

  2. Growing up in Iowa, the Music Man was one a staple of our culture. I’m looking forward to going to it! I think it’s even better when you know people in the show. I’ll be sure to watch for you!

  3. Hey, Aaron! You must come up to me afterwards and say “hi”! Like I said, I’ll be the green Grecian Urn lady! It’s very fun, for sure – I don’t think we’d have done two years in a row if it was any other production, but we both love it. It is fun having the Iowa connection to MN…somehow adds to the understanding!!

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