Briarcliff senior Dan Levine, 17, has a lot on his plate as Harold Hill, the conman who turns tiny River City, Iowa, on its ear in Meredith Willson’s charming comedy, “The Music Man.” There’s a whole town to swindle, a mayor to duck, a school board to outsmart and a piano teacher to woo.
But the senior says one of his biggest challenges, particularly in the rapid and wordy song “Trouble,” is much more basic.
“I find the hardest thing about it might be finding time to swallow, because there’s so much saliva building up in my mouth,” he says, laughing.
“Trouble,” in which Hill whips up a controversy over a pool table as a way of selling boys band uniforms and instruments, is fast and chock full of lines that don’t exactly resonate with a 17-year-old in the age of the iPhone.
“I have never heard of ironclad leave before,” Levine says. (Director) Mr. (Ian) Driver’s son, Charlie, found a website where a lot of these words are defined, so we’re always going to it to figure out what we’re talking about. Noah Berger, who plays Mayor Shinn, has a line about two wrestlers and we had to look them up to figure out who they were.”
Instead of learning the song slow and ramping it up the speed, Levine, a self-described “kinetic learner,” says he played the song over and over on iTunes until it stuck in his head.
“I sing it everywhere I go now,” he says.
Levine, who has been in Briarcliff musicals all four of his high-school years, says he and his castmates have noticed a trend in director Ian Driver’s show selections.
“We’re going back in time,” he says. “We did ‘Grease,’ the ‘The Pajama Game,’ which was in the ‘30s, then ‘Sugar,’ which was 1927. And ‘Music Man’ is 1912.”
Levine says the role has two distinct sides: the fast-talking Harold Hill (an alias), and Gregory, the character’s romantic self. Each has a different objective, the senior says.
“Harold wants to get the money and leave and do his scam, but Greg thinks there’s always a band,” Levine says. “He says it at the end of the show: ‘I always think there’s a band.’ He’s kind of sentimental.”
“The Music Man,” 7:30 p.m., March 8, 9; 2:30 p.m., March 10. $15. showtix4u.com