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"Music Man" performers include, from left, David W. Konshok, Alan Zemek and Brinn Krabbenhoft. The Northern Light Opera production opens Friday, July 29, performances to be staged in the Park Rapids Area High School auditorium. (Submitted photo)

76 trombones led the big parade

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76 trombones led the big parade
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Yes, we've got trouble. Right here in River City...

And the Park Rapids audience is about to come face to face with the con man himself, Harold Hill (David W. Konshok).


But the con man is also a family man, and learning the lines is a family affair. Son Matt, 14, and daughter Rachel, 12, will join him on stage when the Northern Light Opera production of "The Music Man" debuts next week. Rachel has assumed the role of Amaryllis, "Winthrop's love interest," and Matt is a town teen.

But, like Dad, the two are seasoned thespians. Matt is about to make his fourth stage appearance; this is Rachel's third.

"I grew up doing this," said the protégé of the late Martin Carter.

The family's day is spent learning lines, listening to the music and reviewing the movie. Stage fright is non-existent in the Konshok household. "Veterans don't get the jitters."

Meanwhile, Marian the Librarian - Brinn Krabbenhoft - spends her afternoons outside on the deck. She goes over her lines - with one eye on the script, one eye on the children in her day care.

She will be joined on stage this summer by her entire family, husband Jason, Johnna, 9, and Brielle, 6.

"Now I'm mom and actress," she said, which "involves some multi-tasking."

She broached the idea of Jason joining her on stage several years ago, but caring for the kids and household duties precluded it. "After the house burned and the kids got older, we decided to spend more time together," she said of summers. Originally, just Jason and Johnna were part of the cast. Then Brielle decided make her stage debut. Shipoopi has become her favorite song and dance.

But joining the cast caused her some consternation. "Mom, in the show we have a different mom," Brielle said of Mrs. Squires (Bev Hallaway). "Does that hurt your feelings?"

"No," Brinn assured her. "That's what acting is all about, becoming someone else on stage."

Meanwhile, daughter Johnna came to the realization the stage requires toil. "If I'd known how much work it was..." she told her mom.

"But now she's seeing the pieces come together," Brinn said, "the magic" of the stage is unfolding.

"Marian" marvels at her co-star, David. "He's a giant 12-year-old. That makes it fun."

But kissing Harold Hill is drawing razzing from her children, "Mom, don't do it," they tease, grinning at their dad.

The first time Marian actually gave Harold a smooch - they'd been just brushing cheeks - caught him off guard. "He pulled back" wide-eyed, Brinn said.

But with five rehearsals left on the docket, she figured the time had come.

Alan Zemek will shift roles from area developer and Enterprise columnist to mayor. He takes the stage as Mayor Shinn. His last stage performance was in 1976, as Dr. Chumley in "Harvey."

Mayor Shinn "is self-important, pompous, overbearing and he loves the sound of his own it shouldn't be too much of a stretch for me to portray his character," Zemek joked of his role.

"As for his platform," Zemek said in response to a newspaper query, "I think it is the eradication of superfluous shim-shammery and the protection of the good citizens of River City against the influences of spellbindery and over-exuberance."

"When it's over, it's bittersweet," Brinn said. "You have your own life back. Catch up on the laundry...

"But you bond with the people and characters. Learning lines become part of daily routine."

The "strike" - dismantling of the set - "is a happy funeral," she said of parting company with the persona she's assumed.

Broadway hit in 1957

"The Music Man" is a musical with book, music, and lyrics by Meredith Willson, based on a story by Willson and Franklin Lacey.

The plot concerns con man Hill, who poses as a boys' band organizer and leader and sells band instruments and uniforms to naive townsfolk before skipping town with the cash.

In River City, Iowa, prim librarian and piano teacher Marian Paroo sees through him, but when Hill helps her younger brother overcome his fear of social interactions due to his lisp, Marian begins to fall in love with Harold.

Harold, in turn falling for Marian, risks being caught to win her.

In 1957, the show became a hit on Broadway, winning five Tony Awards, including Best Musical, and running for 1,375 performances.

The cast album won the first Grammy Award for "Best Original Cast Album". The show's success led to revivals and a popular 1962 film adaptation and a 2003 television remake.

Northern Light Opera Company's summer production of "The Music Man" will be staged in 7:30 performances Friday and Saturday, July 29 and 30 and Thursday through Saturday, Aug. 4-6 in the high school auditorium.

A Sunday matinee will be performed at 3 p.m. July 31.

Tickets are available at Beagle Books, ordered online at or by calling 237-0400.

Jean Ruzicka
(218) 732-3364