For reasons I can't quite explain, NBC has already announced its next live musical, despite not even having announced casting for its upcoming live musical, Peter Pan, scheduled in December. Presumably, this will be for December, 2015.
The show that they'll be doing is -- The Music Man.
With the right casting, this is a fun show to do, and somewhat valid for a live production, since the stage show is slightly different in a few structural places from the movie version that people are most familiar with. And as a live TV production that softens the comparison to Robert Preston a wee bit, I think.
(It's also my favorite musical, and the first I ever saw live, at the Shubert Theater in Chicago. Great casting, which I still remember despite being a wee kidling. Forrest Tucker, who most people know from F Troop. He's just what the role calls for, a brash, fast-talking con man who can charm the pants off the unsuspecting, the total opposite of the naive, trust River City-zians.)
Mainly, it's terrific to see yet another live musical scheduled -- but how bizarre to announce it this early. They must be very confident that Peter Pan will do well (and even Grease). Maybe they want to steal the thunder back from Fox’s announcement, and be known as THE place for live theater on TV -- but as I said, they haven’t even announced casting for “Peter Pan” yet.
Which brings up the casting. The one thing I dearly hope they stick to is that, as I said above, Harold Hill should be a slick, brashly-charming, fast-talking con man, the very opposite of the the people of River City. I've seen two productions with Harold Hill plays as a gosh-gee sly con man who endears himself to the townspeople as one of them (Dick Van Dyke on stage, and Matthew Broderick in the TV filmed remake), and while both were excellent in their performances, they were wrong for the role.
A friend suggested Joseph Gordon-Leavitt. He's very talented and can bring the edge to the role. But for my taste he's a bit too young at what will be 34 next year. I prefer a Harold Hill with a bit more mileage on him – more cons in him, it’s all so second nature to him, and more weariness, too, open to finally settling down from a life on the road-- but I can accept Joseph Gordon-Levitt. It wouldn’t be bad casting in the slightest, which is always the fear. But I’d love to know more about other options. (If Jon Hamm can sing, he might be interesting. Or Bradley Cooper. And my friend suggested another solid choice -- Neil Patrick Harris) In the end, I suspect the network won’t ask me – but hey, that's their choice.
Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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