You can bet I'll be in the audience at Vero Beach High School's Performing Arts Center when Professor Harold Hill comes to town this week in one of my favorite musicals of all time, The Music Man. The show is a production of the VBHS drama department under the direction of Dee Rose-Imbro, Ms. Dee to all who have studied with her. Dee Rose-Imbro has been teaching budding actors for more than 30 years but is also an actor, choreographer, and director herself. She played Mama Rose in Riverside Theatre’s Gypsy several years ago.
In The Music Man, the dapper traveling salesman Harold Hill is played by Vero Beach High School senior Ricky Rivera, who said the role is a lot more challenging than he expected, both physically and mentally demanding. “The dynamics of the fast talking man trying to rally a town, to the slow charming moments of trying to swoon a librarian gives me a fun challenge while also teaching me that I’m out of shape!”
Rivera described his character as a fast-talking con man “who goes from town to town selling boys bands. The catch is that he collects the money and leaves before the band can even come together. When he comes to River City, however, his plan is turned upside down by a certain librarian.”
And that would be Marian, the librarian, played by VBHS junior Emily Olsson, who has learned not to let herself think of a well-known character as a challenge. “I easily feel pressure in these types of situations, so I usually put my mind into my own interpretation of the character. When I take on a role, I try to approach the character through my personal relationship to her in order to integrate myself into the performance.”
Both students have been involved with the VBHS Drama Troupe for years. Before getting to VBHS, Rivera participated in Ms. Dee’s drama camp, where “I just fell in love with theatre.” Olsson was also a pre-high school student of Ms. Dee, who “used to be my neighbor and is a family friend, so I was involved in the summer camps and took on little parts in the ‘big kids’ shows.”
Rivera said the role he’s loved most so far has been Bert in Mary Poppins, when he “got to walk up a wall and on the roof of the Performing Arts Stage (with help of a fly system of course!).” Acting in Shakespeare’s Macbeth is one of Rivera’s goals but musicals are at the top of his list. “The challenge of having to act, sing, and dance creates a fun and exciting experience.” He plans on studying musical theatre in college next year. “Whether it’s on the stage or just singing songs in the street, I don’t think performing will ever leave me. Once you find it, it sticks to you and never lets go.”
Olsson started her stage career early in life, she said, beginning as a toddler at Riverside Children’s Theatre. She continues to take every opportunity to learn. “I take ballet, jazz, and tap at Riverside in group classes, and take private vocal lessons with Dr. Jacob Craig. This summer (I’m going to) New York to participate in a summer intensive called Broadway Artists Alliance.” She anticipates auditioning for theatre programs at several colleges as she enters her senior year at VBHS.
Tickets for The Music Man are available online.
Photos: Emily Olsson Photo credit: JPR Images.com; Ricky Rivera in Mary Poppins