STORY WRITTEN BY TARA LYNN JOHNSON
For Digital First Media
Ah, the bright lights of Hollywood, and it’s just around the corner. Did you know there’s a Hollywood in Montgomery County? It’s true. And one of its sons stars in the latest Narberth Community Theatre (NCT) production — Meredith Willson’s “The Music Man.”
The classic American musical bowed on Broadway in 1957 and won five Tony awards, including Best Musical. It features marches, barbershop quartets, and ballads. The story: fast-talking traveling salesman Harold Hill cons the people of River City, Iowa into buying instruments and uniforms for a boys’ band he vows to organize, even though he doesn’t know anything about music. After planning to take the town’s money and run, he falls in love with the librarian. Will love make him change his ways?
In his first NCT show, Chris Seifert, from Hollywood, plays Harold. Seifert loves the fact that love may change Harold’s crooked ways. He also loves the music. Some of the well-known songs: “Seventy-six Trombones,” “Goodnight, Ladies,” and “Till There Was You.”
Seifert said he’s one of the last to take his place just before the show begins.
“I’m excited and can’t stand still,” he said. “I’m the guy high-fiving other cast members backstage before we start.”
Once the overture starts, he usually hits his mark, says a quick prayer, does a last minute stretch, then it’s off to the races, he said.
His partner in the show is Alicia Culleton, who plays Marian the librarian. Culleton, originally from Maine, now living in West Chester, said Marian is intelligent, confident, independent, and stubborn. She senses that Harold is up to no good, but he also brings excitement and joy and gives the town something to look forward to.
“Marian wants to fall in love, and she doesn’t want a man in shining white armor, but she certainly doesn’t expect Harold Hill,” she said. Will she fall in love then?
Though she feels nervous prior to the curtain rising, Culleton, also in her first NCT production, can’t wait to perform this particular show for people. It’s a “fabulous tale. My desire to tell the story outweighs any and all nervousness,” she said. “I just want to do my best and have a wonderful time doing it.”
Both actors love working with the people of NCT, which has been offering productions on the Main Line for more than 50 years.
“I love new things, and I’ve been so fortunate to get to meet and work with everyone. It’s amazing how quickly everyone has come together to put this production on,” Seifert said. “It’s been such a joy and honor to play this part and be able to work with this incredibly talented, kind group of people.”
Culleton said performing also lets her experience many lives.
“Portraying a character allows me the opportunity, and sometimes the excuse, to see situations in different perspectives,” she said. “Life is incredibly too short, which means my own life can only be full of so many adventures, so I find it exciting to experience the adventures of another person.”
Seifert is extremely grateful for the gift of theater, especially without having to go all the way to the other Hollywood to do it.
“Be someone else for a bit, sing, dance, hopefully move people one way or another — it’s all great,” he said. “People in the audience pay money to be entertained, perhaps be taken away from whatever they have going on, and they’re looking to me and the cast to accomplish that. Performing, to me, is one of the greatest privileges in the world.”
IF YOU GO
What: Narberth Community Theatre’s “The Music Man”
When: 8 p.m. Fri.-Sat; 3 p.m. Sun., March 6-21
Where: Overbrook Presbyterian Church, 6376 City Ave., Philadelphia.
Tickets: $16-$19 through the website www.narberthcommunitytheatre.org.
Info.: For more information, call (610) 352-4823.