Rock Island

Bethesda Little Theatre presents an original musical revue featuring songs from all the Broadway shows you’ve been wishing you could see in one night but couldn’t… until now. Come From Away, Six, Dear Evan Hansen, Chicago, Tina: The Tina Turner Musical, Company, Hadestown, Hamilton, and more. We even have some side trips to some of the wonderful music clubs Times Square has to offer. Don’t miss your chance to see numbers from some of the hottest shows on Times Square! A Night Out on Times Square, runs June 10, 11, 12 and 17, 18, 19 at the Montgomery College Cultural Arts Center. (For tickets and more information click here: or call 202-796-3431.)

In our blog series “Inside the Numbers” we take you backstage with the performers to discuss a sampling of the songs they’ll be presenting; today we’re going to explore the opening number to “The Music Man,” a crowd favorite that very few people know is titled “Rock Island.”

Alright gents, there’s a lot of rhythm and a lot of words here – how’s it going?

Justin: It’s coming. We are getting it up to speed and it gets better every time we do it. Getting off book will be the fun part. 

Aref: Number of words: no problem. Rhythm: no problem. Choreo/staging: no problem. Hardest part is tempo, which we are conquering, courtesy of Leslie Blaha in the beginning with her blasted metronome.

Gordon: I’m lucky I only have a few lines so the rhythm and words don’t pose a problem for me personally. It’s the other guys who need to be concerned.

Arthur: Personally, I think it’s going well. I do hope that I don’t end up running out of breath during my spiels. If so, let’s hope there’s an O2 tank back stage.

Eric: Going as well as it could be. There’s still practice to be done to get it closer to ready.

Aref Dajani and Arthur Glover first learning the words.

What did you think when Cathy first handed you this song?

Aref: WOAH/WHOA! When I heard “Music Man”, I thought, “Ya Got Trouble” which is so much fun!

Editor’s Note: And might have even MORE words in it!

Gordon: I knew it was a difficult piece to do. A few years ago I was in a production of “The Music Man,” and I remember that the folks in “Rock Island” never did quite get it right!

Editor’s Note: Our guys are on the case though and it’s going to be a great rendition!

Arthur: I really didn’t think about it, my mind went blank and the first thing that popped in my head was, “What is this?” 

Eric: Oh no. How are we going to do this?

Editor’s Note: Sounds like they’re figuring it out! Can’t wait for you all to see how it’s come together!

Justin: I thought it was an interesting choice.  But trying to find an all-male group number that works for a cast as varied as ours is not as easy as it sounds.  

Jeff Hayes, Justin Cunningham, and Darren Midkiff

Music Man – love it, hate it, or something in between?

Editor’s Note: Sounds like lots of folks have some favorite tunes from this show; seems appropriately named.

Gordon: I really like it. Although I played the mayor (non-singing role) in the show referenced above, it was fun playing a character who always had a lot to say even when he didn’t know what he was talking about, which was most of the time!

Arthur: I always liked the musical Music Man. When I was in my school choir, I really enjoyed the song 76 Trombones.

Eric: It’s a classic for a reason. I don’t like too many classic shows, but everyone likes “The Music Man”.

Justin: I like the show. Not my favorite ever. Though Marian the Librarian is a great song!

Aref: Love love love it!! Or as Arthur exclaims, “He’s a what? He’s a WHAT?!!

Putting words and choreography together

How do you mentally prepare for a song like this before you walk on stage?

Eric: Don’t panic and forget everything!

Aref: There is only one way to mentally prepare for a song like this: Lots of faith in the other six guys! 

Gordon: The two things I try to remember are (1) timing is crucial, and (2) the words must be understandable, even though they are spoken very rapidly.


Arthur: Practice, practice, practice, take a shot of oxygen and have FUN. 

Practice makes perfect!

Anything else to add?

Aref: My grandfather was a traveling salesman for hardware with exclusive rights for a super popular product at the time. His territory was the entire states of Missouri, Kansas, Iowa, and Nebraska and he traveled exclusively by train, so the opening “River City, next stop!” would have totally resonated with him, though more like Kansas City, Dubuque, or Omaha.

Arthur: Since our show is about Times Square, it seems we could change the name of the train station from River City Junction to Pennsylvania Station, which is near the heart of Times Square – I know the territory. 

Editor’s Note: That’s an inside joke – come see the show to understand it!!

The Usual Suspects

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