Pros: Marian's voice, everyone but Harold Hill, sets,
Cons: End of the play but not the finale, Harold Hill
We saw this in South Bend, IN last night, and the music was fabulous - as you can hum 90% in your head. "76 Trombones" is the big number and the finale is a wonderful wonderful reason to go alone! I'm not going to say why, but it includes at least 25 trombones!
The set opens with a sub-frame of the stage mapping out River City, Iowa. The train sequence with all the traveling salesmen is wonderful - the movement of the men make you believe you are on a train. And, of course the train-syncopated songs, like the "talk, talk talk" and "Good Night Ladies," along with "Marian the Librarian" are the top songs in my humble opinion.
Marian's voice and acting supercede anything Harold Hill does. How on earth can any man do better than that Robert Preston? The part is the same, the lines are the same - it's all the same. But, this man is just vanilla, bland and boring. Even his voice is just not "it." The mayor bumbles all over his words, Greg Hill's cohort is even like the original in the movie, along with the mayor's wife, Marian's mother, and little Winthrop is beautifully played too. But the lead is just awful.
The sets move around and have a depth of their own, moving from the neighborhoods to the town square to the gym and the footbridge with a markedly real feel. The music is beautifully played and the costumes are just like an ice cream sundae. Especially the four barbershop men and their striped coats. Their comic relief is something to see.
Just be prepared for the lead to miss the strength required to be Harold Hill. And, the ending where everyone is just happy to hear their sons play is weak and fast. It just closes way too shortly.
In all, this nearly 3 hours (with only a 15 min. break) is worth going to see. The plot is complex enough to hold your attention, with side stories galore, but someone like Paul Newman needs to step into the Hill role. Too bad!
I would see it again, nonetheless.