The Music Man

For the song and game, see The Music Man (song).

The Music Man is a musical play written by Meredith Willson and Franklin Lacey, which premiered on Broadway in 1957 and was revived in 1976 with Ian Richardson as Harold Hill. Craig Bierko had the title role in another revival that played Broadway in the early 1990s, directed by choreographer Susan Stroman.


"Professor" Harold Hill is a con man who sells musical instruments, pretending that he will teach youngsters to play them and form a town band. His plan to carry out the scam at River City, a small town in Iowa, is thwarted when he becomes attracted to Marian Paroo, the local librarian. When some of the town officials become suspicious of him, he forms them into a barbershop quartet. He gets around the ladies of the town by encouraging them to put on a concert and he wins Marian over by his kindness towards her younger brother, Winthrop. Although she recognises his scheme, Marian falls in love with him and helps him to escape detection. Hill decides to stay in town and face the music.

Film adaptations

The play has been adapted for film twice. The first adaptaion was in 1962, starring Robert Preston, Shirley Jones, Buddy Hackett, Hermione Gingold, Paul Ford, Charles Lane, and Ron Howard. This version was adapted by Marion Hargrove and directed by Morton DaCosta. It won the Academy Award for Original Music Score and was nominated for Best Art Direction-Set Decoration, Color, Best Costume Design, Color, Best Film Editing, Best Picture and Best Sound. The Music Man was adapted for the screen again in 2003, in a television movie starring Matthew Broderick, Kristin Chenoweth, and Victor Garber, directed by Jeff Bleckner.

Background Information

  • The fictional city of River City in the musical is loosely based on Mason City, Iowa.
  • American Libraries, the magazine of the American Library Association, reported in the March 2005 issue the source of the name of the character "Marian the Librarian" as Marian Seeley of Provo, Utah. Mrs. Seeley had been an acquaintance of Meredith Willson during World War Two, when she was a medical records librarian. The magazine reported that Meredith Willson "dubbed her 'Marian the Librarian' at the time, then went on to include that character in his play."
  • The story is thought to take place in 1912.
  • The Music Man was spoofed in The Simpsons episode "Marge vs. the Monorail."

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