The Music Man at the Kings Theatre

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COHESION is king in the Portsmouth Players’ production of Meredith Willson’s musical about a conman conquered by love.

Director Ian Good, choreographer Rosy Thompson and musical director Angela Blackwell all sing from the same hymn-sheet, delivering an energetic production with no excessive scene-changes allowed to slow the action.

Any production of The Music Man is ultimately as good as the performer in the title role, and here the youthful Paul Clements has sufficient charisma and the technique to go with it to suggest he has a bright future.

His intonation wobbles at times in his duets with Liz Hubbuck, playing the librarian who sees through him but then falls for him, and she is the one who brings the necessary tingle factor in her solo, Goodnight My Someone, and their duet, Till There Was You.

The principal children, Oliver Kanavan (alternating with Aidan O’Connor) and Phoebe McCallan, performed confidently on the opening night, and Paul Wilkinson shows high potential as Tommy.

Robert Day blusters busily as the town mayor and entertaining ‘turns’ are provided by Jeanette Broad above all but also Jacqueline Willis, the whole Pickalittle women’s chorus and the barbershop quartet.

But ultimately the star is Ms Blackwell, not only for the electricity she generates in the big Seventy-Six Trombones number but for her skill in keeping songs together in tandem.

The band is drawn exclusively from the cream of the area’s instrumentalists – and it shows.

Until Saturday.