With the country divided into what seem to be entrenched factions, the Grandview Carriage Place Community Theater group has what director John Heisel believes is the antidote.
In a time of political strife, "people have a need for an uplifting, patriotic, red-white-and-blue, flag-waving, Mom-and-apple-pie-type of show," he said. "That's exactly what 'The Music Man' is."
The summer musical production will be presented at 7 p.m. July 12-14 and 2 p.m. July 15 in the Grandview Heights High School auditorium, 1587 W. Third Ave.
"When you think about it, 'Music Man' really fits in with the whole philosophy of community theater," Heisel said. "It's a show about how music and the performing arts can help spread joy, happiness and blissfulness through a community, and that's sort of what we're trying to do with our shows."
The show is one of the biggest productions the Grandview Carriage Place troupe has put on, he said.
"We are pulling out all the stops," Heisel said. "We have more than 60 people in the cast, and we're really putting an emphasis on the story and characters and not just the music and dancing."
The cast includes a large number of children as well as residents from throughout central Ohio, he said.
The lead characters -- Harold Hill and Marian Paroo -- are portrayed by Jamie Chmielewski of Westerville and Clintonville resident Greg Zunkiewicz.
"What's so much fun about community theater is getting to work with people from different communities who have varying levels of experience, from serious theater students to people who've never taken part in a show before," Chmielewski said.
Harold Hill, the con man who convinces the people of River City, Iowa, to buy instruments and uniforms for a boys band, "is a fun, energetic and boisterous character to play," Zunkiewicz said.
"He's ornery, but there's also a misperception about him," he said. "He's deeply misunderstood and we see him change through the show."
That's largely because of Marian, Chmielewski said.
"She's able to see the good in Harold Hill and bring it out of him, and of course, fall in love with him," she said. "She's the one person in town who's not completely fooled by him."
"Marian's probably the first person Harold's dealt with who has as much wit as he does," Zunkiewicz said.
Tickets to "The Music Man" are $5 and can be purchased at the door.