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76 Trombones, 62 Years Ago: The Debut of “The Music Man”

"The Music Man" creator Meredith Willson, a flautist and piccolo player, composer, conductor and musical arranger, seemed on the surface an unlikely candidate to create Broadway’s next hit, given his lack of experience in the medium....In the late 1940s, Willson began working on the first of his three autobiographies, "And There I Stood with My Piccolo." This lighthearted book explores Willson’s turn-of-the-20th-century childhood in Mason City, Iowa, where he adroitly honed the skills that enabled his professional career in music while also wholeheartedly participating in small town misadventures.

Falling in Love with the Stage Musical

From Leonard Bernstein’s "Candide" to the Damon Runyan-inspired "Guys and Dolls," to her own adaption of "The Jungle Book," Tony Award-winning director Mary Zimmerman has brought her unique style to this beloved American entertainment. She’s long exercised her chops on the Goodman stage and now returns with "The Music Man," the 1957 classic about a smooth-talking swindler and the small Midwestern town he wraps around his little finger.

Making Meaning of Shakespeare’s Title

“A sad tale’s best for winter,” asserts the young Sicilian prince Mamillius when asking for a bedtime story. Indeed, many of our bedtime fairy tales, myths, stories and legends have a dark undertone to them. Consider the collection of Jakob and Wilhelm Grimm’s Fairy Tales, originally published under the name Children’s and Household Tales in…

Clothes “Oft Proclaim the Man”

Robert Falls and Ana Kuzmanic's Shakespearean Collaboration Wardrobe certainly helps a performer get into character, and the costume an actor wears is equally important to the audience. This is especially true in contemporary productions of Shakespeare, where doublets and ermine-trimmed robes may not make an appearance, but power and status are almost always in play.…

The Winter’s Tale: Neither Comedy nor Tragedy

By 1611 at age 47, William Shakespeare had already penned most of the plays that would come to define his oeuvre. Hamlet, King Lear, Macbeth, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Romeo and Juliet, Twelfth Night and Othello had all premiered in London, along with 27 other plays. Though he could not have known how long-lasting his…

Reading, Pennsylvania: A Brief History

Lynn Nottage sets her play "Sweat" in Reading, Pennsylvania—a once-prosperous city 48 miles northwest of Philadelphia—captivated by its early 21st century economic struggles. Reading’s story, from its earliest pre-Revolutionary beginnings to its apex in the 1930s to its current state of economic decline, mirrors that of many cities across the nation that have undergone sweeping changes in their economic landscapes.

Two Decades of Drama

With nine productions over the past 20 years, Rebecca Gilman is the most-produced contemporary playwright in Goodman Theatre history. The Pulitzer Prize finalist, Artistic Associate and “one of Chicago’s hottest playwrights” (Chicago Tribune) marks her seventh world premiere at the Goodman with Twilight Bowl.