SHS Production of The Music Man

The Music Man comes to Town by Kathleen Kohler
Posted on 04/09/2020
"Ya Got Trouble in River City" photo by Kathleen Kohler

The Music Man comes to Town

by Kathleen Kohler

In late February Sultan High School (SHS) students put on a spectacular showing of The Music Man for families and visitors. 

Gathered in the high school commons, music and drama director Mrs. Jill Sumpter welcomed the audience, who offered a big round of applause for co-director Rosalyn Santerre. In charge of costume and design, Santerre’s attention to detail enhanced the authenticity of the period production. Jim Lucas coordinated the scenery, along with a host of volunteers whose time and talents transported our community for two glorious hours to a gentler bygone era. 

A big thank you goes to Brad Catlin, tech and sound volunteer. Thanks to Catlin and the generous support of the Sultan School Board, students performed with brand new stage lighting.

“One of the reasons I chose The Music Man this year is because we really are getting brand new uniforms next month,” Sumpter announced to an ecstatic crowd of parents and musicians. As you may recall from December’s Soup Supper Band & Pie auction, the school has not had new uniforms since 1997. 
Ya Got Trouble in River City. Photo by Kathleen Kohler
Lights dimmed and the music flowed from the orchestra pit, as on stage the railway conductor, played by SHS junior Adam Ramzan, announced, “All Aboard!” Eight business men rushed to board a train bound for River City, Iowa. 

Written by Meredith Wilson and Franklin Lacy, The Music Man opened on Broadway in 1957 and ran for 1,357 performances, winning five Tony Awards. Several years later, Robert Preston and Shirley Jones stared in the movie version. Perhaps a bit nostalgic, Wilson based River City on his hometown of Mason City, Iowa. 

Cameron Sifferman performed the convincing role of Professor Harold Hill, a traveling con man who rolls into town and steps off the train. Discovering the town’s Mayor Shinn, played by SHS junior Max McClintock, has recently added a pool table to his billiard hall, Hill warns the people of the immorality brewing for their young boys. Sifferman didn’t miss a note as he danced across the stage singing “Ya Got Trouble.”

While the town’s librarian, Marian Paroo, played by SHS senior Madison (Maddy) Jeffries, views the smooth talking Hill with suspicion and wards off his advances, in her heart she dreams of that special someone. 

At Home with the Paroo Family. Photo by Kathleen Kohler.Talea Blasko acted the role of Mrs. Paroo, who longs to see her daughter, Marian, happily married. She hopes the traveling music man will help her son, Winthrop, played by Casey Sifferman, gain confidence and overcome his lisp when he learns to play the trombone. “For the role I needed to learn to speak with an Irish brogue,” Blasko says. While she’s never had an accent for her previous musical roles, she says, “It was fun to try to learn to speak with one. Also, my best friend Maddy was Marian, so it was a special experience to learn our lines together.”

With the town’s people stirred up, Mayor Shinn directs the four school board members to investigate Hill’s background. But the crafty Hill applauds their vocal talents and the contentious men abandon their longtime feud to form a quartet, distracting them from the mayor’s assignment. Adam Ramzan, a SHS junior, performed dual roles in the show, playing both the conductor and quartet member Olin Britt. Ramzan especially enjoyed the barbershop music. “Singing music like that brings me a whole bunch of joy,” says Ramzan, who plans to pursue a degree in music education after he graduates next year.

The Quartet. Photo by Kathleen Kohler
During a brief intermission the audience visited while some lined up at the concessions. Volunteers and members of the Sultan Music Parents Association (SMPA) served up cookies and Italian sodas topped with generous mounds of whip cream. 

While such a production requires dozens of people from the cast, crew, and a host of volunteers, too numerous to name, a few of the students shared about their experience. 

“I enjoyed everything about Harold Hill. I liked getting to be the swindling con-man, but also getting to show the softer side with my counterpart, Maddy,” says Sifferman, who graduates this June. “It was honestly one of my favorite roles I’ve ever played,” 

Till There was You. Photo by Kathleen KohlerUnlike his starring role as Professor Hill, Sifferman plans to attend Western Washington University where he’ll study pre-law, on his road to becoming a criminal prosecutor. 
As for Jeffries, already accepted to three colleges, she plans to go into film production and hopes to stay involved with musical theater. Best friend, Talea Blasko, who played Jeffries mother, says, “I plan to attend Whitworth University in Spokane next year and study biology.” Blasko has her sights set on a career in the medical field.

The actors also shared their views on the importance of the arts in education. “When provided the opportunity to explore their creativity students are more likely to be engaged and have a drive to want to go to school and to participate in the activities the music and drama programs provide,” Jeffries says. And her fellow actors agree. Sifferman points out that music and drama allows students to express themselves in a way they don’t often have the opportunity to and may not have experienced. 

“The drama program offers diversity in the extra-curricular activities at the school,” Blasko adds. “If a student doesn’t necessarily want to do a sport but still wants to be involved, they can join. The drama program has all sorts of options from being on stage, to working back stage or playing in the pit. It’s a wonderful and creative outlet for students at Sultan High school.”  

From the authentic detail of costumes and scenery to the superb acting and music, Sultan High School produced a show to rival any stage production in the Greater Seattle Area.  

“Everyone involved, from the cast, to the pit, to the tech, to the parents who help, put their heart into these productions. We all work so hard to make the best show for everyone to enjoy, and that’s one of my favorite things about the drama department.” Sifferman says.

“The musical is always something I look forward to,” Jeffries adds. “I think it’s an amazing way to bring students, staff, and the community together to achieve a common goal. Without the support and guidance from Roslyn Santerre and Jill Sumpter, the musical would not have been possible. I think everyone who is interested, should get involved with performing arts! You will not regret it!” 

76 Trombones. Photo by Kathleen Kohler
Special thanks go to Jill Sumpter, whose love for teaching shines through in her students’ joy and passion for theater and music. If you missed this year’s show, be sure to mark your calendar for next February’s musical. 

For more information how you can support the music and drama program contact Angela Atkinson at [email protected] or visit their web page to see how you can become involved.