The Music Man stands as one of the greatest achievements in American musical theatre, but few know about its rocky beginnings and the against-all-odds success story of its creator Meredith Willson.
Mark Cabaniss steps back into the Golden Age of Broadway and brings to life the origins of this classic show, the music behind it, and the unlikely story of its creator. Interweaving behind-the-scenes accounts of people who worked with Willson, Cabaniss looks at his long and unusual career as a composer, conductor, radio personality, and flutist, which reached its pinnacle in The Music Man.
No one initially believed in Willson’s “Valentine to Iowa,” seeing it as nothing but a corny flop or, worse, a recipe for disaster. But when the curtain fell on opening night, a star called The Music Man was born. Over 65 years later, that star is still marching right to this day, endeared by millions around the world. To understand Willson, his career, and his music is to understand how The Music Man came to be: he was truly the only person who could have ever written this show due to his unique background, talent, incredible persistence, and belief. The show’s ultimate success and longevity was anything but inevitable—rather, it was truly a miracle.