Con-man Harold Hill headed to Wautoma next weekend
Beginning a new job as a high school music teacher can be overwhelming, but tackling the iconic musical “The Music Man” in the first few months of starting the job could be daunting.
But it would be Josh Barker, Wautoma High School’s new vocal music instructor, who would take on the challenge crediting the overwhelming support from the academic community for the choir’s ability to bring the musical to the stage in just over two months.
“From art teachers and students who help paint the sets, the Tech Ed department that helped build and fix set pieces, members of the staff that create the play bill and organizing promotional items, Kristin Albright helping organize the pit rehearsals and several staff members district-wide performing in the pit, Ann Fajfer dedicating more time than believable to help direct, this is the definition of collaboration and team work,” he said. “I have never seen a school district that pitches in and helps, so willingly, like they do here in Wautoma.”
Barker, who previously worked as a private instructor at a dance, music and theater studio in the Waukesha/Brookfield area and taught on the Sioux Rosebud Indian Reservation in South Dakota before coming to Wautoma, made the decision to present “The Music Man” as the choir’s fall musical on Nov. 2, 3 and 4 at the McComb/Bruchs Performing Arts Center due to his familiarity with the production.
“Being I am new to the role of director, we figured that choosing a musical I was very familiar with would be the best course of action,” he said. “It also doesn’t have exorbitant costuming or set needs, and we felt that we had the right numbers to get the job done well.”
Due to the fact this is Barker’s first time being responsible for the majority of what happened in the musical, he shares the success of the upcoming production with Fajfer.
“When I worked at Brookfield Center for the Arts I was a music director, so I took care of teaching all the students the music and solos, but didn’t have as much responsibility blocking and figuring out sets and things like that,” he said. “This is certainly a new and exciting role to have, but it would have been much more difficult without the help of Mrs. Fajfer.”
Barker added it has been the students that continue to be his rock throughout the time he spent preparing for the musical. “The students have been the absolute best part of these first few months at Wautoma,” he said. “They are hardworking, well prepared, talented, and have absolutely wonderful attitudes.”
In his first lead role, senior Jordan Reilly tackles the part of Professor Harold Hill, a traveling salesman who tries to convince unsuspecting parents to purchase band instruments, uniforms and instruction books before skipping town.
Being nothing like his character, Reilly said he was excited when he found out the choir would be performing “The Music Man”, and knew he wanted to portray Harold Hill. “It’s fun being able to be a total salesman,” he said. “I can be very expressional and loud.”
Having previously played a chorus member in “Fiddler on the Roof”, the narrator in “Joseph and the Technicolor Dreamcoat” and Maria Rainer in “The Sound of Music”, senior Emma Blaszczyk was excited to play River City Librarian Marian Paroo, the only resident skeptical of Hill’s intentions.
“What I really like about Marian is that she is different than any other character I’ve ever really portrayed,” she said. “She has a more sophisticated, sassy side to her and I’ve really enjoyed stepping into her shoes three nights a week.”
Blaszczyk admits this character has been more of a challenge for her than previous years since the vocal pieces are in a different range, but she was up to the challenge and is excited to perform for the community.
“(The musical) has been such a home for me the past three years,” she said. “I’m really excited to just leave it out on that stage and just give one good final show.”