I look forward to the Hugh Jackman version. I suspect it’ll get great reviews, and he will be dazzling, though I’m not expecting many edges and shading. I'm not remotely say he'll be bad (see above: "it'll get great reviews and he will dazzling), just that he tends to be BIG -- and extremely wonderful at it -- but the role is at its best when Harold Hill is sly with edges, which is a smaller form of manipulation. Though another theater-savvy friend agrees with me...who knows, from past interviews Jackman clearly loves the show dearly -- it was the first play he ever did, in high school -- so maybe he'll bring that lifetime of appreciation to it and bring out every nook and cranny of the character. Regardless, it's all okay. He's a terrific performer, and I love “The Music Man” so much that I’m glad when it stays in the public eye and on such a high level.
What I'd loved to have seen is the 2000 Broadway revival with Craig Bierko. I've seen videos of him in the show -- and posted many here -- and saw him do "76 Trombones" live at the 2000 Democratic National Convention when I was covering it in Los Angeles. And he seemed to nail the role wonderfully, and got a Tony nomination as Best Actor in a Musical. (Tough competition that year, with the winner being Brian Stokes Mitchell in Ragtime.) And he also sang "76 Trombones" at that Northwestern gala. But alas, that's as much of his performance as I've seen.
(My paths did cross with him recently at that "A Starry Night" weekend Northwestern University held last year starring alumni of the school's theater department -- and as oft-noted, written by my pal Shelly Goldstein. We chatted at a pre-event that was a reunion of students who had worked on the alternative "The Mee-Ow Show," which I was never in, but wrote for its initial year. The reason I went up to him, by the way, had surprisingly nothing to do with The Music Man, but rather to tell him how much I loved a little-known movie he had starred in, a very funny, but quite dark comedy called Sour Grapes, written and directed by Larry David. He laughed and said, with appreciation, how not many people tell him that...)
Anyway, we'll have to stick with what we've got. So, here are two videos of Bierko in as 'Prof. Harold Hill." This first is with the Boston Pops, under the baton of Keith Lockhart during "Trouble."
And this is Bierko at the 2000 Tony Awards singing...oh, you know.