Memories of a long-ago bit part prompted this hesitant retiree to step out of his comfort zone and into ‘The Music Man’ audition spotlight

By Don Gerberg | Photographs by Carolyn Watson
From the May 2019 issue


Don Gerberg, a Millsboro retiree with a love of theater but no adult experience on stage, took the bold step of auditioning for, and winning, a role in Clear Space Theatre Company’s production of “The Music Man.” The whole process spanned several months, culminating in 10 performances of the Meredith Willson classic in March. Here is Gerberg’s account of that journey.


It begins when I notice that our local theater company is going to perform “The Music Man” as part of its 2019 schedule. Wow — that brings back some vivid memories from long ago!

Trips to Broadway shows (mostly musicals) have been an important part of my life since 1959. “Bye Bye Birdie” and “Flower Drum Song” were the first two. During the 1960s, I saw more than 25 Broadway shows. My love of the theater has always been part of who I am.

My parents saw “The Music Man” just after it opened in late 1957, and my brother and I learned the words to all the songs. More than 50 years later, I can still recite “Trouble” and “Rock Island” from memory. But, most significantly, I had a small part in the show in 1964, my senior year of high school — and it was fun!

I begin to wonder if I could get a small part now. I don’t think I ever formally auditioned for any of the few shows I was in, and am certain I haven’t done so since 1966. So I call two close friends: my cousin, who has had a wonderful career in the theater, and my best friend from high school, who became a director at a community theater company. Both of them say go for it!



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