Streetcar Company presents toe tapping musical classic this April



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Main character Harold Hill snuggles up to Marion Paroo, played by Elaine Riedel, during rehearsal time last week. (Lauren Tiner) (click for larger version)
March 30, 2011
While the musical "The Music Man" is a tradition on Broadway, it's also the Streetcar Company's tradition - a community theatre company that has gone strong for 40 years.

This classic musical holds quite an impressive resume, with five Tony Awards, a Grammy Award for its cast album, and also a number of popular adaptations, from novel, to script, to screenplay.

Years back, Streetcar presented the lighthearted, toe tapping musical at the historic playhouse in Gilford, which has since been burned down.

Decades later, the Streetcar Company's rendition of Meredith Willson's "Music Man" is set for the stage again this April.

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Lead character Harold Hill, played by Rodney Martell, dresses fittingly during “The Music Man” rehearsals at the Gilford Community Church last week. (Lauren Tiner) (click for larger version)
Cast members from all over the Lakes Region are involved with the current show, including Gilford, Laconia, Meredith, Belmont, Franklin folks, and more.

Producer Matt Demko and Director J. Alward have been hard at work this season to re-create a family classic on the stage, with the help of new and old faces across the Lakes Region.

Streetcar performs between three to four shows per season, and cast members can look forward to eight to ten solid weeks of rehearsal time in preparation for opening night.

While this local company is the longest running community theatre company in the area, theatre has a lot of competition these days.

"Community theatre is getting harder to do. There are now more theatre groups in the area and plenty of entertainment at home. We just ended a lesser known show, so we decided to go with the bread and butter of musicals," said Alward. "This musical involves kids and is appropriate for families. It gets people singing and dancing."

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Gilford sisters Kayla Zarella, 12, and Cecilia Zarella, nine, have performed all their lives and plan to dance all the way through “The Music Man” this April. (Lauren Tiner) (click for larger version)
"Music Man" also offers chances for a variety of cast members to join the crew. This year's youngest cast member is a mere five years old, and the oldest cast member is a proud 75 years old.

"We have some really young kids this year, which we haven't done before. We hope to grow lifelong performers. My whole family is involved with the company. We have grandfathers, grandmothers, entire families, and single people, too," said Alward. "There is a place here for everyone, whether on the stage or behind the stage."

Returning members often grace the stage, yet Alward said the company is open to new cast members.

"We have some people who have their Bachelor's in theatre, music, and dance, and then we have people who have never stepped on stage before. We are also looking for more tech people. It's a great way to get your foot in the door," said Alward.

Streetcar Company also performs plays throughout each season, yet musicals always seem to be the most uplifting and lighthearted shows to produce, with "catchy tunes that will send people home toe tapping," according to the director.

The entire Zarella family of Gilford is also involved with the musical this year, including Stage Manager Erin Zarella and her two daughters — Cecilia, nine, who plays the character Gracie Shinn, and Kayla, 12, who plays Zaneeta Shinn.

"Our family has been involved with Streetcar since 'The Wizard of Oz' in 2002. Our kids are also taking singing lessons and music lessons. Working with this company has been such a blast," said Erin Zarella.

Both young girls will play the Mayor's daughters in "The Music Man." While the oldest daughter dates a boy considered to be a "disgrace to the county," the youngest daughter is described as energetic, and loves to play around – a fitting role, in Cecilia Zarella's mind.

"I love the musical. I ended up watching the musical and decided it looked like a lot of fun, so I tried out for it," said Cecilia.

Opening night also happens to be her birthday, which makes for an extra special opening, with cake and all.

Her older sister, Kayla, has taken singing lessons since she can remember, and has made friends, and encouraged friends to join the community theatre company throughout the years.

"It's been very interesting, fun, and a lot of work," said Erin, referring to her role as stage manager. "We have a great crew. Without the help of everyone here, this show wouldn't run."

Dave Rowson of Gilford has been a member of Streetcar for the past three years. He said his wife got him hooked during one season, and he has been on board ever since.

"I had no theatre experience beforehand. It was fun, and it's something to do. These are nice people, and a fun bunch of people to be with," said Rowson, who plays a Citizen of River City. "This musical has a lot to it. It's much more work, with all the different scenes this year."

Stars of this year's musical include Harold Hill, played by Rodney Martell; Marcellus, played by Scott Alward; Marion Paroo, played by Elaine Riedel; and Mrs. Paroo, played by Ginny Barunas.

The Streetcar Company will present "The Music Man" on April 8 and 9 at 7 p.m., with a matinee show on April 10, 2 p.m., at Inter-Lakes High School.

Tickets are available at Greenlaw's Music in downtown Laconia and at Innisfree Bookshop in Meredith, located in Mill Falls. Tickets are $12 each, or four tickets for $40 in advance. For more information, visit streetcarcompany.com.

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