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Masque’s youth production of ‘The Music Man’ to debut Friday


Published:   |   Updated: July 31, 2014 at 10:36 AM

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Some kids on summer break opt to chill out and take each day as it comes.

That can’t be said, though, for the cast of 30 youngsters, ages 5 through 18, who’ve been painstakingly learning their lines and honing their singing skills for the Masque Theatre summer youth production of “The Music Man,” which debuts Friday at the Omar K. Lightfoot Center, 10901 N. 56th St.

The play, based on the Tony Award-winning 1957 Broadway hit by Meredith Wilson, will be performed at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 3 p.m. Sunday through Aug. 17.

Set in the fictional town of River City, Iowa, in 1912, the plot centers around con man Harold Hill, who comes in to town and pledges to form a band and give music lessons to youngsters whose parents agree to purchase their band instruments and uniforms. The suave, smooth-talking Hill convinces many of the townsfolk to buy into his so-called plan when in reality he intends to skip town before fulfilling his promise.

Marian Paroo, the town’s librarian and part-time piano teacher, is unconvinced Hill is the real deal. However, his charm and the fact that he helped cure her brother’s lisp leads to her change of heart and she finds herself falling in love with him.

Seasoned Masque performer Christian Pena, 16, plays Hill, the lead male role in the highly acclaimed Broadway production that was made into a film in 1962 and a television re-creation in 2003.

“This is like an iconic role,” said Pena, an upcoming senior at Jesuit High School in Tampa.

He’s grateful for both the part he is playing in “The Music Man” and for the close relationships he’s formed with fellow actors during his six-year association with Masque.

Madi LoPinto, 18; Zoe Gray, 16; and Eve Bennett, 14; share the role of Marian the Librarian, the lead female part. Each actor will perform on her own during one of three showings every week of its run.

“Music Man is one of my very favorite shows,” said LoPinto, who at age 7 performed in her first of many Masque productions.

The recent Blake High School graduate is soon headed to Savannah College of Art & Design, where she’ll major in the performing arts.

Gray, also a student at Blake, is playing her first role in a Masque production.

“I like the way the character develops from being very reserved to embracing what can happen,” she said.

Bennett, who performed last summer in Masque’s production of “Cinderella” and is a soon-to-be Blake freshman, also is delighted to be cast as Marian.

“I like it because it really takes me outside my comfort zone and I like how she develops,” she said.

The production’s music director is 18-year-old James Rose, who, following the show, will leave for New York University to study musical theater.

Tickets are $10 and may be purchased at www .masquetheatre.net or at the door. Call (813) 252-1063 for information.

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