RETURN TO RIVER CITY
My wife and I are spending a few days this week in New York City to celebrate our 41st anniversary. Last night, we returned to River City.
No, we did not fly back to Memphis. Not that River City. We went back to River City, Iowa, home of Professor Harold Hill, Marian the librarian, and a boy’s band.
We made the trip by going to the Winter Garden Theater and seeing a revival of “The Music Man” starring Hugh Jackman as Harold Hill and Sutton Foster as Marian.
It was a homecoming for me, as I first visited River City nearly 60 years ago when my parents took me to the old Ellis Auditorium in downtown Memphis to see the National Touring Company’s production of “The Music Man.” It was the first play I ever saw, and I was mesmerized. I fell in love with musical theater that night and have loved it ever since.
On this, my return trip to River City, Hugh Jackman was tremendous, warning of trouble in River City, reprising the role first played on Broadway in 1957 by the great Robert Preston. Sutton Foster touched my heart when she sang “Till There Was You.”
Just as it was in River City 60 years ago, there was a pool table causing trouble. Trouble with a capital T and it rhymes with P and it stands for pool! But Professor Hill won the hearts and minds of the good people of River City, and particularly the heart of Marian the librarian, by delivering 76 trombones and, eventually, a boy’s band.
There is magic in musical theater, and my wife and I left the Winter Garden Theater forgetting our troubles and feeling happy and thankful for Professor Hill and Marian and that boy’s band.
And as we walked the crowded sidewalks of New York City, heading for a late dinner at the iconic Algonquin Hotel, I couldn’t resist. I started humming and then actually singing “Till There Was You” to my wife of 41 years.