sealPurdue News

January 29, 2003

Purdue alumnus returns to campus as star of 'Music Man'

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – Purdue University alumnus Gerritt Vandermeer will return to campus as the lovable con man Harold Hill when Meredith Willson's "The Music Man" is presented at 8 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 15, in the Elliott Hall of Music.

Admission is $40, $34, $28 and $14 for general public; $28, $24, $20 and $12 for Purdue students and children K-12. Tickets can be purchased at Purdue box offices or charged by phone at (765) 494-3933 or (800) 914-SHOW. Tickets also are available at all Ticketmaster outlets. "The Music Man" is presented by Purdue Convocations.

This new production features choreography from five-time Tony Award winner Susan Stroman and direction by Ray Roderick, who is adapting Stroman's Broadway direction for this tour.

The musical follows the antics of Harold Hill, con artist turned conductor, as he convinces the citizens of River City, Iowa, that he can teach their children to play in a marching band. Only after Marian, the town librarian, discovers his secret does the plot thicken.

Featuring classic songs, such as "Till There Was You," "Gary, Indiana" and "Seventy-Six Trombones," "The Music Man" is an all-American salute to music, romance and fast-talking flim-flam.

Vandermeer will play the role of professor Harold Hill in this touring production. A native of Carmel, Ind., Vandermeer received three bachelor's degrees from Purdue and a master's degree in fine arts from the University of California at Los Angeles.

While at Purdue, Vandermeer was active in the Department of Theatre and was a member of the Purdue Glee Club. He now lives in Southern California, where he has performed with the Will Geer Theatricum Botanicum, the Amadeus Company and the Geffen Playhouse.

"The Music Man" originally opened on Broadway on Dec. 19, 1957, starring Robert Preston and Barbara Cook. With book, music and lyrics by Willson and story by Willson and Franklin Lacey, it won eight Tony Awards, beating out "West Side Story" for the coveted Best Musical Award.

The original cast recording won the first Grammy Award for Broadway Musical Score.

The movie, starring Robert Preston and Shirley Jones, also won an Academy Award for Best Score.

The most recent Broadway production of "The Music Man" opened April 27, 2000, at the Neil Simon Theatre. Variety hailed Stroman's choreography as "Impeccable. The choreography is delectable – even intoxicating!"

The New Yorker called the show "Wonderful! It puts music in its place, right up there with all the other miracles of life. The audience practically leaps for joy!"

CONTACT: Larry Sommers, Purdue Convocations, (765) 494-5045,

NOTE TO JOURNALISTS: A publication-quality photograph of Gerritt Vandermeer in "The Music Man" is available at

Purdue News Service: (765) 494-2096;

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