The con is on in Ogunquit. But this is one ride that theatergoers won’t mind being taken for.

Ogunquit Playhouse’s third production of the season is “The Music Man,” starring Peter Scolari, accompanied by a 30-piece “marching band” of local children.

An Emmy Award-winning television, screen and stage actor, Scolari is best known for his TV roles in “Honey I Shrunk the Kids,” “Bosom Buddies” with Tom Hanks, and “Newhart.” He has appeared in more than 300 television programs, as well as feature films such as “The Polar Express” and on Broadway in “Ziegfeld’s Follies of 1937.”

Scolari has now taken on the role of Harold Hill, a con man who hoodwinks the townspeople of River City, Iowa, into buying band equipment for a marching band that doesn’t yet exist.

He was a live wire Saturday singing, dancing and fast-talking his way into the hearts of not just the townspeople on stage, but into the hearts of the audience as well.

There was an impish charm to his performance that gave credence to the idea that he, like his character, could convince anyone of anything.

Julia Burrows joins Scolari as the town’s feisty librarian, Marian. There was no con needed for her to win over the audience Saturday. The statuesque blonde’s crystal-clear, operatic vocals rang strong and true on such beautifully rendered songs as “Till There Was You.”

“The Music Man” requires precise choreography and perfectly timed syncopation. Choreographed by Jeffry Denman, Ogunquit’s cast achieved both Saturday.

It was a marvel to watch the salesmen in the opening scene as they flawlessly delivered their fast-paced lines in rhythm to the movement of an imaginary train, all the while swaying and bouncing as if they were really riding a train.

The cast executed vocal acrobatics throughout the production, including Scolari’s tongue-twisting rendition of “You Got Trouble,” the barbershop quartette performances by the school board members (played by Tripp Hampton, Jeremy Pasha, Andy Redecker and Don Rey) and “Pick-a-Little, Talk-a-Little,” performed by Mayor Shinn’s wife, Eulalie (Beth McVey), and the gossipy townswomen.

Bryan J. Cortes and Becca Lee led the sensational cast of dancers as Tommy Djilas and his sweetheart, Zaneeta Shinn.

Along with the marching band of children, which primarily appeared in the finale, the production Saturday featured Bryan Marden (Winthrop), Elizabeth Elkington (Amaryllis) and Maggie Budzyna (Gracie).

Audiences will be able to see this line-up of children through Aug. 7. A second cast of children will perform Aug. 9-20.

Marden, who stood out as Marian’s withdrawn, lisping brother, will appear in the role for the entire run.

“The Music Man” is filled with familiar songs, such as “Seventy-Six Trombones,” that you can’t help humming or singing as you leave the theater. It’s a high-octane production that’s an enjoyable way to recharge on a hot afternoon or evening.

April Boyle is a freelance writer from Casco. She can be contacted at:

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