The Music Man is a musical play with book, music, and lyrics by Meredith Willson (story by Meredith Willson and Franklin Lacey), which opened on Broadway at the Majestic Theatre on December 19, 1957. The original company starred Robert Preston (in his musical debut) as 'Professor' Harold Hill and Barbara Cook as Marian Paroo. The show ran for 1,375 performances. Preston reprised his role in the 1962 film version.
"Professor" Harold Hill travels from town to town, taking pre-paid orders for musical instruments and uniforms, claiming that he will teach youngsters to play and form a town band. After arriving in River City, Iowa, Hill's scam is complicated when he becomes attracted to Marian Paroo, the local librarian, who recognizes him as the fraud he is. Although she recognizes his scheme, Marian falls in love with Harold Hill. Thanks to the determination of a rival salesman, Hill is exposed and apprehended, but he stays to face the consequences. The band performs, and the parents are so proud and excited to hear their children play that they believe in Hill again, and he settles down with Marian.
The Music Man returned to Broadway in 1976, featuring Ian Richardson. Craig Bierko had the title role in another revival that played Broadway in the 1999-2000 season, directed by choreographer Susan Stroman. Eric McCormack of television's Will & Grace filled in for Bierko for a short time while on hiatus from the TV show. In 2001 Robert Sean Leonard took the leading role. A tour starred Barry Williams of Brady Bunch fame.
A 2003 made-for-television movie version starred Matthew Broderick and Kristin Chenoweth.
- Overture (Instrumental)
- Train Opening (Instrumental)
- Rock Island (The Salesmen)
- Iowa Stubborn (Ensemble)
- Ya Got Trouble (Hill & Ensemble)
- Trouble Playoff & Walking Music (Instrumental)
- Piano Lesson & If You Don't Mind My Saying So (Marian & Mrs. Paroo)
- Goodnight My Someone (Marian & Amaryllis)
- Columbia, Gem of the Ocean (Ensemble)
- Ya Got Trouble (Reprise), and
- Seventy-Six Trombones (Hill & Ensemble)
- Seventy-Six Trombones - Ballet (Instrumental)
- Seventy-Six Trombones - Playoff (Instrumental)
- Ice Cream/Sincere (Quartet)
- Walking Music (Reprise) (Instrumental)
- The Sadder But Wiser Girl (Hill & Marcellus)
- Pick-a-Little, Talk-a-Little & Goodnight Ladies (Ladies, Hill & Quartet)
- Marian the Librarian (Hill)
- Marian - Dance (Instrumental)
- First Seventy-Six Trombones Crossover (Instrumental)
- Second Seventy-Six Trombones Crossover (Instrumental)
- Third Seventy-Six Trombones Crossover (Instrumental)
- My White Knight (Marian)
- The Wells Fargo Wagon (Ensemble)
- Finale-Act 1 (Instrumental)
- Entr'acte (Instrumental)
- Eulalie's Ballet (Instrumental)
- It's You (Quartet)
- Shipoopi (Marcellus)
- Shipoopi Dance - Part 1 (Instrumental)
- Shipoopi Dance - Part 2 (Instrumental)
- Shipoopi Dance - Part 3 (Instrumental)
- Shipoopi Dance - Playoff (Instrumental)
- Pick-a-Little, Talk-a-Little (Reprise) (Ladies)
- Lida Rose & Will I Ever Tell You? (Marian & Quartet)
- Gary, Indiana (Hill)
- Lida Rose (Reprise) (Quartet)
- It's You - Ballet (Instrumental)
- Till There Was You (Marian & Hill)
- Goodnight & Seventy-Six Trombones (Double Reprise) (Marian & Hill)
- Ice Cream Sociable (Instrumental)
- Chase Music (Instrumental)
- Till There Was You (Reprise) (Instrumental)
- Finale - Act 2 (Instrumental)
- Curtain Call Music (Instrumental)
- Exit Music (Instrumental)
- The play’s fictional setting, River City, Iowa, is based in part on Willson’s own birthplace, Mason City, Iowa. The “river” in River City is likely the Mississippi, near Davenport, owing to the announcement by the Rock Island conductor: “River City, Ioway! Cigarettes illegal in this state.” This suggests that Hill and his fellow passengers have just crossed the Iowa border, across the historic bridge spanning the Mississippi from Rock Island to Davenport.
- American Libraries, the journal of the American Library Association, reported in the March 2005 issue the source of the name of the character Marian Paroo (aka Marian the Librarian) was Marian Seeley of Provo, Utah. Mrs. Seeley had been an acquaintance of Meredith Willson during World War II, when she was a medical records librarian. The magazine reported that Meredith Willson "dubbed her 'Marian the Librarian' at the time, then went on to include that character in his play."
- The story is thought to take place in 1912. However, the song "Ya Got Trouble" contains a reference to Captain Billy's Whiz-Bang. This was a monthly humor magazine that began publication in October 1919.
- The melody of Marian’s "Goodnight, My Someone" follows the same chord structure as Harold’s "Seventy-Six Trombones". This is revealed in the double reprise in Act II scene 4, in which the two seamlessly medley their respective motifs (and eventually trade off).
- The Minuet in G, featured in the Act II Finale, was composed by Beethoven.
- The song "Till There Was You" was covered by the Beatles in 1963 on their second album With the Beatles. It is the only showtune the Beatles covered.
- The Music Man is spoofed in The Simpsons episode "Marge vs. the Monorail" written by Conan O'Brien. At some point during the revival, O'Brien was approached about playing the role of Harold Hill for a brief run, but he ultimately could not fit it into his schedule. He says, on the DVD commentary track for the aforementioned 'Simpsons' episodes, that it was the hardest choice he's ever had to make professionally, because The Music Man is one of his all-time favorite things.
- The song "Ya Got Trouble" was spoofed in the Boston Legal episode "Men To Boys," the Veronica Mars episode "Look Who's Stalking" and the Everwood episode "Vegetative State".
- In the Everwood episode "Fear Itself", Dr. Abbott prefers watching the classic The Music Man to contemporary eye candy XXX, declaring that Robert Preston is cool. He reminds his daughter Amy that she always liked the song "Shipoopi".
- The "Piano Lesson" musical number is spoofed in the Family Guy episode "Brian Wallows and Peter's Swallows". Also, "Shipoopi" was sung in an extended sequence in the later episode "The Patriot Games."
- Several Music Man songs were used in Ally McBeal.