Seventy-six Trombones

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Carmel Repertory Theatre brings “The Music Man” to the Tarkington

Howard Baetzhold and Jessica Hawkins are the show’s lead characters Harold Hill and Marian Paroo

Last Friday, the Carmel Repertory Theatre kicked off its 2012-2013 season with Meredith Willson’s classic musical “The Music Man.” Performed in the Tarkington Theater at Carmel’s Center for the Performing Arts, the show promises to be a larger than life journey back to turn-of-the-century Iowa.

Sandy Baetzhold

Sandy Baetzhold, the show’s stage director, musical director and set designer, is an Indiana theater veteran. With over 30 years of experience across both community and professional theater, Baetzhold has worked with the Indianapolis Civic Theatre, Westfield’s Main Street Productions and the Indianapolis Opera Company. Despite the breadth of her experience in the area, this is Baetzhold’s first time directing with the Carmel Repertory Theatre.

“’The Music Man’ is my all-time favorite musical. It is a timeless story,” said Baetzhold. “One of my favorite aspects is that it was one of the first musicals to have a lot of roles for both women and children.”

From left, Brook-Glen Gober as Zaneeta Shinn, Bella Doss as Gracie Shinn and Jill O’Malia as Eulalie Mackecknie Shinn

The show has a very large 47 member cast ranging from a pair of 7 year old twins to several actors in their 50s. The unique blend of age ranges and genders is one of the unique aspects of a show like “The Music Man.”

“It’s been incredible to work with all these actors of all these different ages,” said Baetzhold. “I am so impressed with the level of talent in this show.”

With a story and music as iconic as that of “The Music Man,” Baetzhold and the members of the cast face the interesting challenge of staying true to the original while infusing the show with their own distinct flavor.

“We have our own unique take on it. I think the little twist that I’ve given it is to really let the actor’s personalities come through as much as possible, rather than just force them to copy the performances seen in the movie. The hardest part of this is Harold Hill, who will always be compared to Robert Preston.” said Baetzhold. “With everything I do, I try to let the essence of the character blend with the actors’ own personalities.”

In an unusual bit of casting, Baetzhold’s husband Howard Baetzhold was cast as the memorable Harold Hill.

“That wasn’t a nepotistic choice,” said Baetzhold, laughing. “It’s been very interesting directing my husband. I’ll just say that.”

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