The Music Man is a musical with book, music, and lyrics by Meredith Willson, based on a story by Willson and Franklin Lacey. The plot concerns con man Harold Hill, who poses as a boys’ band organizer and leader and sells band instruments and uniforms to naive townsfolk before skipping town with the cash. In River City, Iowa, prim Marian the librarian sees through him, but when Hill helps her younger brother, Marian begins to fall in love with Harold. Harold, in turn falling for Marian, risks being caught to win her.
Theatrical Costumes from Music Man
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Plot of Music Man
Confidence man Harold Hill arrives at staid River City intending to cheat the community with his standard scam of offering to equip and train a boy’s marching band, then skip town with the money since he has no music skill anyway. Things go awry when he falls for a librarian he tries to divert from exposing him while he inadvertently enriches the town with a love of music.
Professor Harold Hill likes a challenge and when the other salesmen on the train west tell him that Iowa is the biggest test of all of sales ability, he gets off at River City. We know it’s the 20th century there, only because of a reference in one of the songs to Gary, Indiana. Marian the librarian doesn’t buy the professor’s line but he convinces many of his other potential customers that the new pool table that has just been placed in the billiard parlor could mean “trouble in River City.”
Professor Harold Hill — a con man and traveling salesman who tries Iowa after saturating Illinois; falls for Marian
Marian Paroo — the town librarian and part-time piano teacher; eventually falls for Harold Hill
Marcellus Washburn — Harold’s old friend, no longer a con man, who now lives in River City
Mayor George Shinn — a pompous local politician; never falls for Hill’s con
Eulalie Mackecknie Shinn — the mayor’s wife
Mrs. Paroo — Marian’s Irish mother
Winthrop Paroo — Marian’s shy, lisping brother; rarely speaks before Hill arrives in town
Tommy Djilas — a young man “from the wrong side of town” who is secretly seeing Zaneeta Shinn
Amaryllis — Marian’s young piano student
The School board (Barbershop Quartet) — four bickering businessmen united by Harold
Pickalittle Ladies — Eulalie’s four gossipy friends, Alma Hix, Mrs. Squires, Ethel Toffelmier and Maud Dunlop
Charlie Cowell — an anvil salesman who tries to expose Prof. Harold Hill as a con man
Zaneeta Shinn — the mayor’s oldest daughter; secretly seeing Tommy Djilas
Constable Locke — the town sheriff
Gracie Shinn — the mayor’s youngest daughter