Disney's Music Man with Matthew Broderick

Robert Preston must be rolling over in his grave.

I had to stop watching this, one of my favorite musicals, in the first fifteen minutes because it seemed like it was a step above a high school production and below an off broadway traveling show.

While I know Broderick has had immense success in The Producers ( haven’t seen his version) his singing lacks, and he seems flat in this production.
I miss you Robert Preston :::::::sniff:::::::::::::

I can’t think of anyone else who could attempt Harold Hill.

I do think that Broderick isn’t great…

Ms. Chenoweth, however, is wonderful. The production numbers are nicely staged, as well.

Sarah Jessica would’ve done a better job. Yech.

Gosh, I’m right there with you. I was so excited to watch it, but I actually turned the channel in the middle of the Trouble with a capital T number. I felt bad because I wanted to like it so much, but I just couldn’t.

Broderick seemed detached. No twinkle in his eye. None of the con man’s charm. But everything else was wonderful!!! I loved the costumes, especially. This show was so much better than most of the dreck on tv these days that I’ll forgive Broderick his inadequacy.

(Note: The Music Man is just about the only musical I’ve ever liked.)

While it wasn’t awful, I think this new version just felt flat compared to the Robert Preston version. So many of the characters in the original movie were so wonderfully over-the-top: Mayor Shinn was a ridiculous blow-hard, Winthrop had a Daffy Duck-like litttthp… even the alto in the barbershop quartet stole a scene. Nearly everyone in town was a caricature, in a fun way. I didn’t feel that in this new version.

Plus, Broderick felt too… well, young to be a seasoned, experienced con-man.

I’ll agree that it looked great, though.

It’s awfully hard for anyone to fill Robert Preston’s shoes. He played the role so sincerely insincere. As much as I love Matthew Broderick, he seemed too sweet and innocent to carry it off.

LOVE the costumes. Why don’t ladies wear hats anymore??

Matthew Broderick’s sweet and innocent appearance is exactly the thing that could make him a great con man, too bad he doesn’t have the acting chops to really sell it. Other than him though, I really enjoyed it.

I wanted to watch it-since I LOVE those kinds of costumes, but Matthew Broderick makes me want to retch.

It was just so…uninspired. The cast seemed like they were phoning it in. I can accept differences between the two movies. I saw the stage version of it a while back, and it’s quite different from the original movie, but it was still pretty good. This version though…it just seemed like the characters (mainly the main characters) were only going through the motions, performing the bare minimum to get paid.

There were a few bright spots. I didn’t mind the guy who played Marcellus Washburn. There were a few other minor characters who weren’t bad. I was thinking during the quite lengthy 76 trombones number (the first one, in the school), man, it would’ve been really fun to have been an extra in that.

Singing and dancing: it’s what I do. Well, not so much the dancing…but a bit.

Amazingly, baby-faced Matthew Broderick is 40 years. Which makes him almost as old as the 44-year-old Robert Preston was when the original movie came out.

I only saw the last hour, but Broderick did nothing to impress me.

When you think of Robert Preston having to lip-sync the Trouble… tune in the film, it makes you appreciate the production all the more, since the pre-recorded song and lip movements are so exact. I haven’t seen Mathew Broderick in Disney’s version, but then I don’t need to: for me Preston will always be The Man. Some things you just shouldn’t mess with.


Forgot to add something: I respect Mr. Broderick as a fine actor, but in The Music Man he just "doesn’t know the territory!"



I love the Music Man. It’s one of the few shows that I’ll listen to straight through - every song, every time. It’s simply wonderful.

The Robert Preston version (even though it does fall into cheesiness from time to time) he’s wonderful. The town’s people are great, the visual jokes are there… Hermione Gringold. Shirley Jones… the dancing is beyond words.

I didn’t think they’d match it. But I thought it would be better than my “well, it didn’t completely suck.” (how did they get into a classroom in the middle of 76 trombones? What was that? Why was that? Why were they so friendly in “You ought to give Iowa a try”? Why was Marcellus not dancing with his girlfriend in the Shipoopi? (Actually he did very well, and he also had a daunting predecessor) Why did it take Broderick 'til halfway through “the sadder but wiser girl” to develop a personality? And what was with the “let’s not show their feet and do a bunch of quick choppy cuts during the dance numbers” editing? What happened to “great hawk”?)

The costuming was pretty. Sets were nice. Still - I wanted more.

I’m sorry, but the Robert Preston/Shirley Jones version is just too special to me. I missed all the little bits, like the anvil salesman finally dropping the case on his foot in the closing credits. (Though I did appreciate seeing Patrick McKenna, woohoo!) And the three-shot of Marion, Winthrop and Hill after the “Wells Fargo” number. And why did so many scenes, like Marion and Hill on the front porch, and the final conflict, take place during the day?

And, not to put down Broderick or Chenoweth, but they didn’t match Preston’s slick cool or Jones’ passion. Which could be forgivable if they’d interpreted the characters in some new and interesting way, but they didn’t. Agree with drewbert about the supporting characters.

I liked it! Made me fall in love with The Music Man all over again. Maybe I’m just tired ofthe classic version–it didn’t hold my interest the last time I tried to watch it (but then, I’m not overly fond of Shirley Jones).

Brodrick barely managed “competent” during most of the musical, but I gotta say his “Sadder But Wiser Girl” was the one moment he had a legitimate “A different, equally good interpretation” moment. He was just excellent in that one number. If only he would relax and perform that well in other numbers.

Chenoweth rocked, but she always does.

The mayor was inappropriately creepy. The mayor’s wife had absolutely no personality whatsoever.

Marion’s mom couldn’t decide whether she was trying to be the mom from the movie or not.

The “Marion the Librarian” number sucked so badly that, had it been even a tiny bit worse, it coulda collapsed in on itself and become a black hole. Repeat after me: “camera tricks are NOT a substitute for coreography”. Why is Hill teleporting around the library? Can’t he dance? What’s with the stupid, inappropriate scene from Cinderella that was inserted? Why are they waltzing? Where was the stolen kiss and the slap? It should be one of the two show-stopping moments. Instead it was an embarrassed-for-them moment.

Why isn’t “The Shipopi” Marcelles’s big number? Hill and Marion stole it. And why was “Three Blind Mice” inserted into the middle?

What was with the smoking car during the “Rock Island” number at the beginning? I’ve been in mansions less luxurious. And why wasn’t anyone (except the balding guy) bouncing in time to the train’s motion?

And the camerawork was sooooooo damn obviously desperate to not duplicate ANYTHING the movie did (except during the Rock Island number which was slavishly copied) that they had some really REALLY stupid camera choices: the obvious one was during the "Lyda Rose"number where, instead of the simple split-screen that the movie used, they seemed to think that “Holy Socks, Batman! We’ll use a “Tilt the camera” technique that was stale in the '60s! Then we’ll superimpose a left-tilted Marion over a right-tilted barbershop quartet so all you have is a big, ugly, unwatchable blur on the screen!” :rolleyes:. I understand that you don’t wanna imitate the movie shot-for-shot, but c’mon. You can go too far in the other direction too. (The aforementioned three-shot of Marion, Winthrop and Hill after “Wells Fargo” was another “We CAN’T do what the movie did so we’ll just make an inferior choice” moment)

Why was Tommy Chilas’s expression changed: Great Honk!=Funny. Jeezum Crow! (or whatever it was) = Not funny.

I liked the revised ending where it’s (presumably) a year later with “Hill’s Music Emporium”. That really worked for me.

I also loved the fact that they lost the atrocious “Being In Love With Love” song (which just sucked) and put back in the original (and far superior) “My White Knight”.

Overall, except for Brodrick (who just is too damn stiff in musicals: listen to him in “How To Succeed in Business Without Really Trying”. He’s got the same problem) and the Mayor (c’mon guy: you’re not playing the sherriff in “Cool Hand Luke”!), it was a nice try that did some things well (Chenoweth!!!) and some things horribly.

Overall, a nice try.


I think that “The Music Man” is a cast-proof musical. It’s hard to screw it up.

I agree that Broderick didn’t quite have the chops – a bit too lightweight and innocent looking to be Harold Hill. I didn’t watch the whole thing (I changed to the Simpsons), but the first hour was done well, with a few little nitpicks (what was with the background music in “Rock Island”? It only detracts). Chenoweth was superb, though.

Someone should have told Broderick that “con man” stands for “confidence man”. He had none. With Preston I would have bought instruments and uniforms from him in an instant (and I don’t even have kids), but with Broderick, I doubt that he could sell a $300 toilet seat to a Pentagon purchasing agent. In regards to the other things, I agree with almost everyone who has written - just no magic.

I might add that I was surprised that so much of Broderick’s dancing was done by a double. I realize that he is a busy man and cannot be expected to be able to do as many of the dance steps as Preston or any touring company Harold Hill, but I felt a bit cheated that the director had to resort (especially evident in “Marion” scene) to long shots, quick cuts, low lighting and strange angle shots to avoid making it clear that it was not Broderick doing his own dancing. What it did for me, at least, was indicate that it was indeed not Broderick.


For this musical to work, I have to believe that Harold Hill was the most exciting thing ever to hit River City, that people would pay just to SEE him, much less sign their kids up for his band. Robert Preston did that for me, Matthew Broderick didn’t.