Q&A: NCHS Theatre’s ‘The Music Man’ Opens March 9


Some of NCHS Theatre's actors in costume at a photo shoot at New Canaan Library, promoting "The Music Man."

New Canaan High School Theatre’s winter musical, “The Music Man,” opens March 9 (tickets here). We put some questions to two people involved in the production—NCHS senior Andrew Dooley, who plays the lead role of Harold Hill, and Kate Simone, a 2005 NCHS graduate and professional actress who is directing the show.

Here’s our back-and-forth.

New Canaanite: What led New Canaan High School Theatre to choose “The Music Man” for its winter musical this year?

Kate Simone

Kate Simone: The high school chose to produce The Music Man because it’s an American classic and it’s always a crowd pleaser. The students did contemporary musicals last year so it is also beneficial for them to work on a completely different style of show. The Music Man has several different roles and lends itself to showcase many students.

Tell us about the cast of “The Music Man.”

Kate: Our cast of 38 high schoolers, led by Andy Dooley in the titular role, is fantastic. Every year’s talent tops the last. They’re all triple threats who can sing, act and dance. It’s been great to finally have such a large cast again—including three sets of siblings, Andy and Jack Dooley, Maddy and Serena Peterson and Emily and Michael Telesco—now that pandemic restrictions have been lifted. We also cast four local children who share the roles of Winthrop and Amaryllis. 

Andrew, how are you preparing to play Harold Hill in “The Music Man,” which opens March 9?

Andrew Dooley is playing Harold Hill in NCHS Theatre’s “The Music Man.”

Andrew Dooley: I’ve spent a great deal of my time outside of rehearsal practicing and memorizing. This is definitely one of the most difficult roles I’ve played because Harold Hill is a high energy character that’s on stage for a very large amount of the production. Halfway through this process I broke my ankle, which means I was hobbling around stage in a boot and crutches for three weeks of rehearsal. Regardless, I’ve had a great time. 

Kate, when you and I talked two years ago about “Oklahoma!” we were living in a different world for the theater and everything else. That production was live-streamed and safety precautions were taken through rehearsals and performances. What lessons, if any, did you take away from that experience that’s helped prepare for “The Music Man”?

NCHS Theatre rehearsing “The Music Man.”

Kate: The two biggest lessons I learned from doing “Oklahoma!” in the midst of the pandemic were, one: To be as prepared as I could going into every rehearsal. Having the show fully staged by the end of January gave us several weeks to refine the singing, dancing and acting as much as possible before our performances. It also allowed for any unforeseen absences due to illness, et cetera. And two: Be ready for curveballs. During 2020 and 2021 we never knew what challenges the next day would bring us. Now when things pop up unexpectedly the production team, cast and crew are all more well equipped to pivot when necessary and find a new solution.

Andrew, what has your experience in NCHS Theatre been like? Have you been part of the program through all of high school?

Some of NCHS Theatre’s actors in costume at a photo shoot at New Canaan Library, promoting “The Music Man.”

Andrew: I’ve been a part of the program here since freshman year because both of my older brothers were involved in the theatre department. Being a part of NCHS’s theatre program has made me want to study acting in college and if I’m lucky pursue a career in it. The positive environment created by the students and faculty is what has helped make my experience so enjoyable.

Kate, what would you say to someone who has never attended a NCHS Theatre production and who hasn’t seen “The Music Man”?

Kate: I’d say come for an evening or afternoon of great entertainment. From the student actors’ performances, to the sets, costumes, orchestra, dancing, the songs that you’ll surely recognize- it’s all going to be fantastic. We’re pulling out all the stops.

NCHS Theatre‘s production of “The Music Man” has four shows, at 7 p.m. on March 9, 10 and 11, and at 2 p.m. on March 11. Tickets are available here

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