Michael Herman could possibly have had a glittering showbiz career had he stayed put in the States. Then again, he appears to be getting some stage time here too, seven years after making aliya.
The Herman 47-year-old from Albany, New York, plays the lead role of con man Harold Hill in the upcoming production of The Music Man, performed by the Beersheba-based LOGON theater company. Meredith Willson’s multi Tony-winning musical premiered in 1957, long before Herman was born, and, in fact, was first staged by LOGON 17 years ago. Now it’s back, with a nine-date national tour in prospect, kicking off on February 14 at Mishkan Beersheba, and closing at the same venue on March 13, with slots in Rehovot, Netanya, Givatayim, Modi’in, Jerusalem, Kibbutz Yagur and Ra’anana betwixt. All shows start at 6:30 p.m.
When it comes to musicals The Music Man
is right up there in the jolly, happy-go-lucky entertainment category. The play is replete with rip-roaring numbers, dance routines galore and snappy one-liners, and simply abounds with bonhomie. Herman is delighted to be heavily involved in the current production, even though he does not profess to have all the requisite natural gifts for the part.
This is not Herman’s first LOGON berth. Last year he played Rooster in the company’s production of Annie
, but even that was long after he first walked the boards. That was more than three and a half decades ago.
“My first play was when I was 11 years old, in Albany,” he recalls. “There was a theater house around the corner from where I lived. I used to walk by and look through the windows, and I got very interested in acting.”
Eventually Herman got a chance to test the thespian waters himself.
“There were auditions for [Charles Dickens’s] A Christmas Carol
for the role of Scrooge,” he says.
Nothing ventured nothing gained, or lost, thought the youngster.
“They told me that as it was a musical, it could be good for me if I sang a song [for the audition]. But I knew it would be bad for me because I really couldn’t carry a tune,” he admits.
But even at such a tender age, Herman was made of sterner stuff and decided to go through with it, come what may.
“I looked through the sheet music and I found “If I Were A Rich Man” from Fiddler on the Roof
. I’d seen the movie a couple of times, so I knew the song. I gave the sheet music to the pianist, and he played it, and I sang it. I was terrible. I was off key, but I kept on going and I finished the song. There were people in the auditorium killing themselves laughing, on the floor belly laughing,” he recounts.
Herman knew his showbiz dreams had been shattered even before he got a chance of trying out. Notwithstanding his lack of musical ability, it transpired that his gutsy performance impressed the director, who called him a couple of days later and told Herman that he was giving him a role in the play, of Tiny Tim’s younger brother Harry Cratchit.
“He said, ‘You had the balls and not break down and finish what you started. Even though it was terrible, you have what it takes to be an actor,’” Herman says.
Things went pretty well for the youth, lack of singing ability regardless.
“I sang in a chorus – I had to learn the words to the Christmas carols because I didn’t know them – and it was a great experience,” he adds.
Fast forward 15 years. Herman had moved away from Albany but returned after his father died, to sit shiva with his mother. While in town, he saw that the same local theater was running auditions for parts in Prelude to a Kiss
. As it happened, Herman got to attend only a couple of rehearsals before his brother offered him a job in computers in Pennsylvania. Marriage and five children later, Herman’s acting aspirations were basically sidelined until last year’s part in Annie
Herman has polished his singing abilities with the help of coaching and is now raring to go, along with rest of the 37-strong adult and child cast in The Music Man
. The current production is directed by Yaacov Amsallem, who is ably supported by musical director David Waldmann, choreographer Rosa Howden, producer Patrice Perez, set designer Yochi Lewin and costume designer Melanie Lombard.
With hit numbers such as “76 Trombones” and “Til There Was You” in the show, The Music Man
promises a fun time and good old family entertainment for all.For tickets and more information: (08) 641-4081 and https://www.tixwise.co.il/he/musicman