Great Hawk! It’s The Comedy Crew


Michael Mann plays Marcellus Washburn

Ye Gods! Great Hawk! Jeely Kly! The comedic genius of Meredith Willson’s The Music Man is in every line of the Broadway script. From songs like Harold Hill’s “Ya Got Trouble” to quick hitting “phraseology” in every scene, the actors portraying the inhabitants of fictional River City, Iowa demand comic timing and a grasp of middle- America circa 1912.

In this regard, Liz Hazlett’s casting satisfies and surprises! With access to performers in the 6 – 12th grade, there was much talent to choose from. From experienced performers like senior Michael Mann to the developing talent of eighth grader Tommy Christaldi, every actor brings something wonderful to this production.

For Michael, who plays Marcellus Washburn, the challenge of this role has been an exciting one: “Marcellus is a very energetic and comical character,” relates Michael. “He really carries a lot of the show’s comedy in his relation to Harold.”

From the first scenes with Harold Hill to the several choreographed numbers featuring Michael dancing (Shipoopi!), his character is a demanding on all fronts. “He is basically the fun, zany character of the show, which makes him a challenge for me to perform because he requires such an input of energy.”

As does Tommy’s character, the greasy anvil salesman Charlie Cowell. His presence is key in both the opening and closing scenes – plus in memorable moments with both the leading lady and man. Tommy’s character not only tries to steal a kiss but takes a punch too!

Tommy Cristaldi

Tommy Cristaldi as Charlie Cowell

“This year is the first time I’ve had a role especially meant to be comedic,” says Tommy. “This puts me out of my comfort zone because in addition to having to memorize and deliver lines, I have to do so in a way that will make those watching me laugh.”

Tommy also feels creating an unrelatable character is a challenge as well. “Both my favorite and least favorite part of playing Charlie is that he, as a character, is so much different than me as a person. I love this because it lets me step outside of my comfort zone, but I dislike it because it makes this role much harder.”

An aspiring actor and teacher, Tommy is grateful for the opportunity for his first role with mature actors. “This show will help me next year by giving me a better idea of what a high school production is like.”

While Tommy doesn’t get to act directly with experienced actress Syndney Lamoureux, the eleventh grader has performed in several Penn Delco productions over the years in a comedic role.

The powerhouse character Eulalie Mackecnie Shinn is her most mature role to date. “This part is different from any other character I have portrayed in past performances,” observes Sydney. “I am so used to being cast as young girls, like Little Red Ridinghood in “Into The Woods”, or Molly in “Annie”. Eulalie is 50 years old!”

And a big personality.

“I have had so much fun portraying Eulalie Shinn. Eulalie is such a funny character because she takes herself so seriously; she is completely unaware of how ridiculous she is!”

As a future music educator, Sydney may not get to sing as much in this production, but is excited about her chance to hone her physical comedic skills.

“Eulalie does not have many singing solos. However one of the main highlights of her character is her “dancing”,” laughs Syndney. “She is a part of the Women’s Dance Committee, and even has her own ballet. Most of Eulalie’s dancing is pantomiming and posing. It is extremely comical!”

Sydney Lamoureux

Syndney Lamoureux

In addition to growing as an artist, Sydney appreciates the chance to forge new friendships, like her friendship with her “husband” Mayor Shinn, played by tenth grader Ryan Schmidt.

For Ryan, this is not only the first time in comedic role, but the first time he’s ever graced a Penn Delco stage as an actor. Usually in stage crew, Ryan decided to audition because, as he puts it: “. . .I’m a band geek, and this entire show is about a marching band!”

While Ryan doesn’t get to show off his music skills, he demonstrates his newfound acting ability and comic timing. He’s grateful to get the chance to be challenged.

“It’s been great to learn how actors prepare for a show,” observes Ryan. “To prepare for the role, I watched the movie a lot. I am like the Mayor in a couple ways because we both have big personalities.”

Ryan looks forward to a military career in the U.S. Airforce working with military dogs in security or in the weather field. But in the meantime he’s glad he’s expanded his horizons in The Music Man.

“On opening night, I’m looking forward to finally being able put this show on the stage. We’ve all been working hard on this show, and I really want to entertain everyone.”

Ryan Schmidt, Molly Thorpe, Tyler Smith

Ryan Schmidt, Molly Thorpe, Tyler Smith

Entertaining is how you would describe seventh grader Molly Thorpe who plays the Mayor’s daughter Zaneeta. An experienced dancer, this is Molly’s first attempt at a prominent speaking role. Zaneeta’s character is certainly full of comedic opportunity. And one that Molly wanted badly.

“I knew pretty much the story line and characters of The Music Man before I was cast and that was one of the reasons I wanted to work hard to get into it,” remembers Molly. ” My mom and grandmother really wanted me to go out for Zaneeta, and I honestly thought that I wasn’t going to get the part. ”

After studying how other actresses approached the role she found more then comedy in this funny youngster (ye Gods!) that tells an important story:

“One of the things that I like best about (Zaneeta) is that she’s very bubbly and she has a wonderful personality. I think by the end of the show she becomes more independent and follows what she thinks is best for her, and ultimately her town, by standing up for certain things.”

Molly’s experience has been an enjoyable one and she appreciates the chance not only to dance, but to grow as an actress. She appreciates getting to work with both Liz Hazlett and choreographer Jaquetta Colson to get to the next step: “I always enjoyed coming to my rehearsals because of them, and I knew that they would have something new and interesting to put on the plate for us.”

Molly’s love-interest in the show is played by eleventh grade student Tyler Smith. His character Tommy Djilas is pegged by Mayor Shinn as a “ruffian” of the town and off limits to his daughter. Harold attempts to take him under his wing and encourage him to join the fictional band.

While disappointed he didn’t get to sing in this part, future music major Tyler is excited about the chance to play a troublemaker. “I watched the movie and multiple videos of how he acts,” he remembers. “There were many different kinds of Tommy Djilas’s. I tried my best to take the best of every version and use them all in my character.”

The biggest challenge in such a big show, relates Tommy, is the limited time to work up the interesting comedic characters: ” I wish we had more time to perfect every scene, especially the comedic areas, which are not in short supply.”

But Tommy looks forward to showing audiences what he’s accomplished: “I look forward to performing with some of my best friends and making people laugh!”

Hayley Moore as Mrs. Paroo & Lauren Longhi as Marian

Hayley Moore as Mrs. Paroo & Lauren Longhi as Marian

For Hayley Moore, a tenth grade student in her first big part, making people laugh is a new challenge. Her role as Mrs. Paroo, Marian’s mother, is traditionally portrayed with an Irish brogue.

“It has been pretty weird adjusting to memorizing more than 4 lines, and finding out how to say the funny lines that I do have,” says Haley.
“My character has an Irish “brogue”, but I wasn’t able to deliver that in my portrayal even though I had tried to achieve it in many ways.”

So Haley had to find new ways to create her own comedic translation. It helped that she had been cast previously as the “mom” and had good direction. ” Mrs. Hazlett has been very helpful with giving me tips on how to take on the role of the pushy mom, and Suzanne (vocal director) was very helpful with breathing and singing in “Gary, Indiana.”

And Molly, like the rest of the cast, is thrilled with what they’ve created: “It’s probably the most fun I’ve had in a musical,” she exclaims. ” I can’t wait to bring my character to life and see all the other ones being portrayed by our talented cast. I know this show will be successful and full of energy from start to finish!”