During an all-day casting call at Arena Stage at the Mead Center for American Theater in December, 120 young hopefuls from the D.C.-metro area turned up to audition for Meredith Willson's The Music Man, which runs May 11-July 22, 2012 in the Fichandler Stage, directed by Molly Smith. From the open auditions, 19 talented young actors were invited back by Smith, Choreographer Parker Esse, Musical Director Lawrence Goldberg and Arena Stage Casting Director Daniel Pruksarnukul to vie for the roles of Winthrop Paroo and Amaryllis. As a result, Arena Stage cast five local youth, filling not only the roles of Winthrop and Amaryllis but also three other roles.
Ian Berlin, 11, a fifth-grader at Maret School in D.C., makes his professional debut as Winthrop Paroo, the timid and lisping younger brother of Marian Paroo. Heidi Kaplan, 9, plays Marian's precocious and inquisitive young piano student Amaryllis, and is a third-grader from Maryland who recently performed as Gretl in Olney Theatre Center's The Sound of Music. McLean resident Jamie Goodson, 13, plays Gracie Shinn, the mayor's youngest daughter, and is a seventh-grader at Cooper Middle School (Ford's Theatre's A Christmas Carol, The Kennedy Center's Ragtime).
Appearing as River City kids are 14-year-old Colin James Cech of Alexandria, a past participant of the Voices of Now Mead Ensemble at Arena Stage (Washington National Opera's Tosca, Ford's Theatre's A Christmas Carol) and 10-year-old Mia Goodman, a fifth-grader at Washington International School in D.C. making her professional theater debut at Arena Stage.
The Music Man
Book, music and lyrics by Meredith Willson
Story by Meredith Willson and Franklin Lacey
Directed by Molly Smith
Choreography by Parker Esse
Fresh off her success with Oklahoma!, Molly Smith tackles five-time Tony Award winner The Music Man. Having exhausted all 102 counties in Illinois, "Professor" Harold Hill gives Iowa a try and soon enough convinces River City of its trouble with the "sin and corruption" of the pool hall, trouble that can only be stopped by forming a boys' band. Marian the librarian suspects he's a con man, but she begins to trust him after seeing how he's given confidence to her shy younger brother. Soon, this "Music Man" has transformed the entire town, not only turning the bickering school board into a barbershop quartet, but himself into an honest man. When the stage erupts with "76 Trombones," you'll be cheering along with River City for Harold Hill!
For more information about The Music Man, visit arenastage.org/shows-tickets/the-season/productions/the-music-man/.
Ian Berlin (Winthrop Paroo) will make his professional debut in The Music Man. Later this month, he will appear as Jojo in Maret School's production of Seussical Jr. He also appeared as Toby in Youthtopia, an original musical developed during a yearlong performance ensemble workshop at Imagination Stage. He has performed in youth productions of Shrek (Lord Farquaad), Pete's Dragon (Hoagy), and 101 Dalmatians (Jasper) at French Woods Festival of the Performing Arts in Hancock, N.Y., as well as in its youth circus. He studies jazz piano at Levine School of Music and last year-purely by coincidence-began playing the trombone.