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By BECCA OWSLEY firstname.lastname@example.org RADCLIFF — Seventy-six trombones hit the stage tonight with 110 cornets close at hand in the Hardin County School’s Performing Arts Center community production of “The Music Man.”
The original Broadway production has just celebrated its 50th anniversary and is the only Broadway musical to feature barbershop singing, said Bart Lovins, director of the PAC.
To promote local barbershop choruses, a different chorus and quartet will perform during the preshow and at intermission during each performance.
A local celebrity will be featured in a guest cameo each evening.
The biggest change to this year's show is that it will be the first “Pro-Am” event at the PAC, combining professional and amateur performers.
One of the professional performers is Kentucky’s very own music man, Kenny Hatton, who plays Professor Hill. Hatton, whose stage name is Kenny Ray, is not only a professional vocalist but a traveling salesman, which makes him fit right into the part of Hill — a traveling salesman himself.
“Professor Hill maintains a positive attitude in the face of constant suspicion,” Hatton said. “The big question is will he deliver on what he’s promised — the same challenge facing me and every other hard-working sales person in this country.”
Hatton has appeared in “The Music Man” before in the barbershop quartet, which led to a 30-year career including work with his ensemble, the Bluegrass Student Union.
Since 2006 he has focused on writing songs and arrangements which have led to solo club dates and a solo CD. He has also performed as a big band singer on the Queen Elizabeth II.
Lovins asked Hatton to use his arrangement skills to combine two of the songs writer Meredith Willson had always indented to be sung together — “The Sadder but Wiser Girl” and “My White Knight.”
“I used the Think System,” Hatton said, referring to Professor Hill’s unconventional (and fake) musical system.
Lovins and Hatton believe the additional scene will help with deeper character development of Marian, played by Jennifer Warren.
Warren is another professional performer who is known for playing Stephen Foster’s Jeanie for many seasons. She has also performed with the Louisville Opera.
Nine-year-old Ian Kerr, a student at Mt. Washington Elementary, is one of the young actors with a very big role once played by Ron Howard in the film version. He will play Marian’s lisping little brother Winthrop.
Although Kerr has been in productions of “Stephen Foster-The Musical” and “Annie” he is one of the younger members of the cast. Kerr has been acting since he was seven but this is the biggest role he has played so far.
Acting with a lisp was a little bit of a problem. During the actual performance he said it isn’t as bad but trying to read the lines with the lisps spelled out were difficult.
“I thought I would be more into community theater if I did this and it’s a really nice theater and I have a big part,” Kerr said.
Kerr has an additional challenge of now performing with his arm in a cast after falling sometime last week. He doesn’t really like dancing in the production but does enjoy acting.
He gets to shine in the spotlight during the song “Gary, Indiana” and has noticed he has a bigger part than his dad who is in the quartet in the musical.
Kerr enjoys hanging out with the other kids backstage where they sometimes goof off and play around with each other. One even brings dart guns they played with down the hallway. The kids just have to keep up with the timing so they will remember to get on stage in time.
While Kerr enjoys acting, he really is interested in technology and hopes to do something in a related field when he grows up.
Trouble will be brewing in River City at the PAC through Sunday afternoon.
IF YOU GO
Performances are 7 p.m. tonight through Saturday and 3 p.m. on Sunday. Balcony tickets are $5 and orchestra tickets are $10. For more information call (270) 769-8837 or go to www.thepac.net.
Becca Owsley can be reached at (270) 505-1741.