Dammit, NBC – why’d you have to announce an upcoming live version of The Music Man that likely won’t premiere until 2015? How are we supposed to get excited for Peter Pan Live when we know that this is on the horizon?
No disrespect to the Lost Boys, but Meredith Willson’s 1957 classic is a much better show than the 1954 stage version of Pan. (So long as Mary Martin isn’t involved, anyway.) The songs are catchier, the book is wittier, the production numbers are more fun – and there’s much less chance of high-wire mishaps, which actually might make Pan the more exciting of the two. Also worth noting: Because many of Pan’s lead roles are children, dream-casting that special is a lot less fun than dream-casting The Music Man.
So even though we’ll have to wait at least a year (and probably longer) for any confirmation on who’s going to play Harold Hill, Marian the Librarian, and the assorted other citizens of River City, Iowa, let’s take this opportunity to ignore Pan and go full-steam ahead on NBC’s next live musical. Here are a few folks that would shine in the Cast – with a capital C, and that rhymes with P, and that stands for POOL.
Harold Hill: Seth MacFarlane
There’s basically no way that this would happen, so long as MacFarlane and Fox are still likethis. That said, the Family Guy creator’s beautiful baritone and sly charisma make him a perfect fit for the role – especially since he’s clearly got a soft spot for The Music Man already:
If NBC’s looking to lock down some in-house talent, though, they couldn’t go wrong by tapping Will and Grace’s Eric McCormack, who played Hill on Broadway in the early ’00s, or Chuck’s Zachary Levi, who’d give the role a younger spin.
Marian Paroo: Laura Benanti
The erstwhile star of NBC’s Go On and The Playboy Club already stole The Sound of Music Live right out from under Carrie Underwood; she deserves to take the lead in the network’s next next live musical. Imagine that soaring soprano on “Till There Was You”! Chills. Alternately: Cristin Milioti of How I Met Your Mother and Once (on Broadway) fame has a new NBC show premiering this fall. She also has a lovely voice, and a wide-eyed vulnerability that could add interesting depth to River City’s madam librarian.
Marcellus Washburn: Christian Borle
Actually, go ahead and cast Borle as Harold. And Mayor Shinn. And Winthrop. Basically, Christian Borle for president. (If the network wants to branch out, though, I can also see Josh Gad stepping in as Harold’s “Shipoopi”-singing old pal. Oo, or maybe Taran Killam!)
Mayor George Shinn: Matthew Broderick
Victor Garber played this role in the TV version of The Music Man that aired on ABC in 2003, and it’s tough to think of someone who could do the part better than him – even 10 years later. Still, it might also be fun to give the role to Broderick, who played ABC’s Harold Hill. Sure, he’s not quiiiite right, but what’s a live musical without at least one role that’s been grievously miscast?
Eulalie Shinn: Kate McKinnon
SNL’s standout star is already in the NBC talent pool, and as multiple musical sketches have proven, she’s got a voice. More importantly, she’s daffy enough to turn this supporting role into a real scene-stealer, even if she is technically way too young for the part. (Whatever; slap a wig on her, she’ll be fine.) Don’t agree? Please imagine McKinnon bellowing “BAAAAALZAC!” in “Pick-A-Little, Talk-A-Little,” then get back to me.
The barbershop quartet: The Blanks
A.K.A. Ted’s band on Scrubs. Sure, they mostly do a cappella versions of cartoon theme songs – but their harmonies are tight enough to handle “Goodnight, Ladies” and “Lida Rose.”