By Kathy Carpenter
The Welk Resort Theatre, located in Escondido, is actually a twenty-minute drive up – the road from downtown Escondido. The theatre is a somewhat intimate venue serving up top-notch quality entertainment.
Meredith Wilson’s classic Music Man is the story of a traveling salesman that weaves a spell over the entire town of River city, Iowa. Including the music teacher, who could easily expose him. Director, Ray Limon, starts the play winning over the audience with the infamous “Rock Island,” number featuring the traveling salesmen on a train. I love this bouncy number. Hooks us with the con, and captures our hearts with the romance.
This production of the Music Man is old fashioned Americana at it’s best. Set around the fourth of July Holiday, in 1912, the show is perfect for the upcoming Memorial day or fourth of July if you can wait that long. I remember as a kid I looked forward to watching the movie on every fourth of July. Romantic, funny, family-type-fun. Seventy-six loud cheers could be heard above the hundred and ten clapping hands, at the end. Watching this foot tapping, loveable tale never gets old, and this is no exception.
David S. Humphrey, who has been establishing a name in San Diego theatre over the past few years, cast his spell over the audience as well as River City, Iowa. Charm is something Davis is not short on. Charlene Koepf Wilkinson played Marian The Librarian. When I first saw her, I thought I don’t like her. Then she opened her mouth, and she sounded exactly like Shirley Jones, who some of you may remember as Marian in the 1962 film. (I know pre-conceived expectation), (well, everything factors into if you like something or not.) Wilkinson won me over. She was Marian.
Robin LaVelley, triumphed as Eulalee Shin, with Catalina Zelles, as Amaryllis, and Bobby Chiu as Winthrop, wrapping up adorable. What Limon accomplishes with a minimal cast is astonishing, with seventeen people taking on a whole town. You would never know or miss a generally much bigger ensemble.
One note I want to mention is the fabulous dancing of Sean Kiralla, who played Tommy. Limon, also the choreographer showcased Kiralla’s dancing along with Kylie Molnar, who played Zanita. Their movements were so beautiful it was almost like watching a ballet.
This show has so many recognizable songs, and I love them all. Trouble. Good Night My Someone. Seventy-Six Trombones. Sadder But Wiser Girl. Pickalittle. Goodnight Ladies. Lida Rose.
And of course, my favorite numbers. Marian The Librarian, Wells Fargo Wagon, which closes act one, and Gary, Indiana, which highlights Winthrop.
Lawrence Welk Theatre produces Broadway quality musicals in an intimate setting. Whether it’s Music Man or Kiss Of The Spider Woman starting September 1, 2017. You won’t be sorry if you make the trip to Welk Theatre.
The lobby of the theatre is a museum dedicated to The Lawrence Welk show. A treasure in itself. Enjoy before or after the show to complete the Welk experience.