It’s obvious to everyone in the theater world that, as Broadway has battered its way through the latest coronavirus surge, the business could use a shot in the proverbial arm.
The highly, if not ecstatically, anticipated revival of “The Music Man” — pandemic-delayed and pandemic-plagued — was the obvious, if not the only, candidate to bring a jolt of much-needed excitement to the business. More’s the pity, then, that this undeniably polished production, with its ticket-sales-galvanizing star, Hugh Jackman, proves to be a sadly mechanical, overproduced and overdesigned revival of a musical that needs tender care to allow its undeniable charms to bloom.
Even when it was first produced, in 1957, the musical was patted on the head as being a quaint bit of Americana, its best musical Tony over the more forward-looking “West Side Story” to this day seeming a bit eyebrow-raising. It does not appear in some major anthologies of the best American musicals.