Daily photos by Gary Cosby Jr.|
Jon Noles, who plays “The Music Man” professor Harold Hill, leads his young charges Hunter King, Caki Bolding, Abi Gossett, Ethan Gossett, Wesley Burt and Polly Jo Fitzgerald.
Strike up the band
for Decatur Civic Chorus’ ‘Music Man’
Leading lady puts aside obstacles for chance to perform in musical
By Patrice Stewart
For Melanie Scalfano, the role of leading lady Marian Paroo is a perfect fit at the perfect time.
She has never done musical theater or plays before, though she sings and has directed children’s choirs and church productions.
“I’ve been a music teacher and I’ve fallen in love, just like Marian, and that’s what gave me the guts to try this,” she said.
This weekend, the newcomer to Decatur will sing favorites such as “Till There Was You” in the Decatur Civic Chorus production of Meredith Willson’s “The Music Man.” Four performances are planned at the Princess Theatre Center for the Performing Arts: Thursday and Friday at 7:30 p.m. and Saturday at 2 and 7:30 p.m.
“I thought this would be a great way to get to know people here,” said Scalfano, who married radiologist Frank Scalfano and moved to Decatur from Huntsville in July.
And the thought of working with dozens of children and teens who play band members and piano students doesn’t bother her, because their blended household now includes six, from fourth grade to college age.
She was once a music major at Samford University, but she changed to physical therapy and now works in that field at Decatur General Hospital’s Rehab Access. She also has worked toward a master’s in music from Belmont University in Nashville.
“I’ve wanted to do a musical for a long time, but something else always came first, such as education or children,” she said. “Frank has been great to feed the children and help with their homework so I could get to rehearsals.
“And Betty Rocha, our director, has been patient with me, so it’s been a wonderful learning process as I watch the other, more experienced cast members.”
A soprano, she said this music is perfect for her vocal range, and she remembers humming “Seventy-six Trombones” as a child because her mother, a piano teacher and church organist, played “Music Man” songs when she was growing up.
“Melanie sings like an angel,” said Rocha, who cast plenty of other talent for this show, too.
The leading man, Jon Noles, is a Huntsville resident who has been involved with Renaissance Theatre, Fantasy Playhouse and Ars Nova.
“I’ve always wanted to be in ‘The Music Man,’ so when I heard it was going to be done in Decatur, I wasted no time in coming over here — and this is a wonderful group to work with,” Noles said.
By day, he is a cost analysist for the U.S. Army at Redstone Arsenal. But at night, he becomes “Music Man” Harold Hill, who arrives in River City, Iowa, and wants to start a band so the young people will have something to do besides go to the pool hall. The hometown folks are suspicious of him, but he eventually wins them over, along with Marian.
Melanie Scalfano, who plays Marian the librarian in the Decatur Civic Chorus’ production of “The Music Man,” with The Rocketeers barbershop quartet singers Tony Vollers, A.D. Barksdale Jr., John Charlton and Jim Savage.
An added attraction in this musical is a barbershop quartet singing songs such as “Lida Rose,” “Good Night, Ladies,” “Wells Fargo Wagon,” “Ice Cream” and “It’s You.”
Rocha said while Decatur’s barbershop quartet performed in the show she directed six years ago and will sing in the lobby before this performance, a new quartet from Huntsville called to audition for the musical in October.
The Rocketeers are members of Huntsville Metropolitan Chapter of the Barbershop Harmony Society. John Charlton and Tony Vollers are from Madison, A.D. Barksdale Jr. is from Athens and Jim Savage is from Huntsville.
Sue VanLandingham, executive director of the Civic Chorus, said the “Pick-a-Little, Talk-a-Little Ladies” add fun, color and big feathered hats to the show.
“This is an entertaining show for the whole family that offers a lot of roles for all age groups,” said Rocha, who directs a cast of 63. “This is a fairly new cast for the most part, although some were in the show several years back.”
An orchestra directed by Linda Davidson will provide music, and Sonya McKelvey assisted with choreography for “Marian the Librarian,” the lively “Shipoopi Dance” and others.
If you go
What: Meredith Willson’s “The Music Man” produced by the Decatur Civic Chorus
When: 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday, and 2 p.m. March 17
Where: Princess Theatre Center for the Performing Arts
Tickets: $20 for evening performances or $18 for the matinee; available at the door, from cast members or by calling 340-2532 or ticket Chairwoman Edith Hobbs, 350-6887.
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