'76 Trombones'

Fifteen-year-old Melissa Marsh sang "Till There Was You" in the same lilting manner as Shirley Jones did in the 1962 movie "The Music Man." If not paying close attention, her performance could have been mistaken for lip-syncing to the song sung by Jones in the musical, starring Robert Preston opposite Jones, described as one of the "last great musicals," on imdb.com (Earth's Biggest Movie Database).

Only this time it was Melissa, rehearsing for the Douglas County Children's Theater production of Meredith Willson's "The Music Man Junior," coming to the Dance Workshop Performing Arts Center with performances at 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Sept. 8, 9, 15 and 16.

Director Caitlin Papp, 29, moved from the Bay area and has been teaching acting and singing at Dance Workshop for two and a half years.

"One of the things that amazed me when we moved here from the Bay area are the kids here are not only interested (in theater), but they are very talented," said Papp.

Melissa has been performing for many years already, including at a children's theater in Novato, Calif., playing roles such as Annie in "Annie." She also played lead roles in Douglas County Children's Theater's first two shows, "Aladdin" in September 2005 and "Rock Around The Block" in March 2006. Now she is playing the role of Marian Paroo (Marian the Librarian) in "The Music Man Junior."

An enthusiastic Melissa said when she moved to Carson Valley two years ago, "I would have died if there wasn't anything here."

The cast of 28 actors ranging in age from 7-15 has been rehearsing for this production for three months.

"Final touches are now being added to this delightful story of The Music Man which is a lively version of the Broadway show featuring such favorites as 'You've Got Trouble,' '76 Trombones,' and 'Wells Fargo Wagon,'" said Ann Peters, who produces shows and owns the Dance Workshop along with her husband, Craig.

The lead role of Harold Hill is being played by Alex Cerny, also in his third production by DCCT. The choreography is by Katie O'Neill and the assistant director-choreographer is Rachel Chipp.

The dance captain for the show is 14-year-old Kim Lowe, who was also the dance captain for "Aladdin" when she was 13.

"The Music Man Junior" will be performed at the Dance Workshop Performing Arts Center, 1697 County Road, Minden. Tickets are $12, $10 for students. They are available through cast members, at the Dance Workshop and at the door. Reserved seating is available. For more information, call 782-8717.

A staff of qualified professionals guide the young actors at Douglas County Children's Theater, according to Ann Peters. So far, Papp, who has been involved with theater since she was 5 and graduated from Foothill Theater Conservatory College in Los Altos, Calif., has managed to make sure everyone who wants to be in a production can be in it. For instance, when the part of the mayor went to a 9-year-old and his "wife" was 14 (Kim Lowe), Papp compensated by changing the wife into the mayor's sister.

"Every kid in the show has a line, and every kid gets a part," said Papp. "I had trouble casting 'The Music Man Junior.' There were too many talented kids."

DCCT offers children of Douglas County a chance to learn the business of musical theater from the inside out.

"What I noticed they enjoy is being able to play something different. What I really noticed is kids who are not interested in sports, get a chance. It's their time to shine. To see these kids glow and shine is just awesome."

n Jo Rafferty can be reached at jrafferty@recordcourier.com or 782-5121, ext. 210.


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