When The Way Off Broadway Dinner Theatre's fall production of the classic Broadway musical The Music Man opens tonight, September 7th, it will bring together a cast of old friends and new faces. The Music Man boasts the largest cast Way Off Broadway has ever had on its stage for a single production - half of which are making their Way Off Broadway debut!
Leading the cast as the loveable con man Harold Hill is Steve Steele, who has performed in over 40 productions at the theatre since it first opened in 1996. Joining Steele on stage as his leading lady is new- comer Jenna Milkewicz as Marian Paroo. Not only will The Music Man (Meredith Willson's ode to Smalltown, U.S.A. of a bygone era) be Milkewicz's Way Off Broadway debut, it will also be her Maryland stage debut, having just moved to Baltimore from her native New Jersey.
Steele's appearances over the years at the dinner theatre, located on Frederick's Golden Mile, include Zach in A Chorus Line, Oscar Madison in The Odd Couple, the Tin Man in The Wizard of Oz, Max in Lend Me a Tenor, as well as a number of Christmas shows and Children's Theatre productions. Recognized at theatres throughout the tri-state region, in just the last several months he has performed in the Old Opera House's City of Angels (Stone), the Fredericktowne Players' Musical of Musicals! The Musical (Bill), and the Performing Arts Factory's Guys & Dolls (Sky Masterson).
In addition to Milkewicz's musical theatre credits, which include performances in productions of A Christmas Carol, Hairspray, and Mel Brooks' The Producers, her opera appearances include Les Contes d'Hoffman and La Canterina. Together with Steele, they recreate the roles made famous on stage by Barbara Cook and Robert Preston; and later on the silver screen by Preston and Shirley Jones. In 2003, a television version of the musical aired with Matthew Broderick as Harold Hill and Kristin Chenoweth as Marian.
With a cast the size of The Music Man's, full of 'characters' who make up the residents of River City, countless stars have appeared in productions of the show - from Buddy Hackett and Ron Howard in the 1962 movie to Victor Garber, Molly Shannon, and Debra Monk in the television movie. From a bubbling traveling salesman to a pompous mayor and his wife to an Irish mother, River City has personalities of all types.
Some of the most memorable of these characters are the School Board which is turned into a barber shop quartet by Hill. Taking on this group in Way Off Broadway's production are four actors who have all appeared at the theatre before: Gus Glatzel (Chicago, South Pacific, The Producers), Michael Iacone (Footloose, Jekyll & Hyde, Damn Yankees), A.P. Kopec (Hairspray, Damn Yankees), and Shawn Nakia (Drowsy Chaperone, The Wedding Singer, Thoroughly Modern Millie). Opposite them, the "Pick-a-Little" Ladies, who make up the town's Ladies' Dance Committee, are Suzanna Fox, Katherine Moorman, Julia Pfanstiehl, and Rachel Silvert - all making their Way Off Broadway debuts.
"It's wonderful having so many new performers here working with cast members who have been a part of the WOB family for years," says Justin M. Kiska, the theatre's President and Managing Director. "Everyone is having a great time together and that definitely comes across on stage."
It isn't just many of the actors who are new to Way Off Broadway but also the show's choreographer, Dee Buchanan. A long-time choreographer and dance instructor, and the director of the Dee Buchanan Studio of Dance in Middletown, Buchanan happily joined the production team alongside Way Off Broadway's Executive Producer, Bill Kiska, who is directing his 30th production at the theatre.