Shirley Jones, son to tour in 'Music Man'

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NEW YORK -- Academy Award winner Shirley Jones is about to hit the road with a concert version of "The Music Man" and she's bringing along a special guest -- her son, Patrick Cassidy.

Ms. Jones, who starred as the librarian love interest in the 1957 classic film version, will start a seven-state tour this month with her middle son playing con man Harold Hill. The two have a long history with the musical: She was pregnant with Patrick while the film was being shot.

The new concert mixes some of the songs by Meredith Willson with behind-the-scenes stories by Ms. Jones about filming the movie opposite Robert Preston and a tale or two from Mr. Cassidy, who credits "The Music Man" for sparking his love of performing.

Ms. Jones this time will play Mrs. Paroo -- the mother of the librarian -- and also be host of the show, which Mr. Cassidy helped develop. Mother and son will be backed by a cast of 12 actors, an orchestra and projected photos and images.

"It's been a real wonderful process in putting it together because I've gained so much more insight about the movie and about my mom's experience on the movie with Preston," said Mr. Cassidy. "And I tell a story: 'The Music Man' itself is the reason I became an actor.'"

Performances will begin in Mr. Willson's hometown of Mason City, Iowa, on Sept. 18, and stops include Prior Lake, Minn.; Paducah, Ky.; Topeka, Kan.; Springfield, Mo.; Oklahoma City; and Little Rock, Ark.

The new tour is the just latest collaboration between Ms. Jones and Mr. Cassidy. They've often performed together -- including being the first mother and son to star in a Broadway musical in "42nd Street" -- ever since he made an "appearance" in his mother's belly on film. It will also be the fifth version of "The Music Man" they've done together. Singing with his mom is a pleasure, he says.

"I'm the middle son of my mom's three and they say middle children tend to be peacemakers as well. I don't know about that but I do know that I am definitely a momma's boy," he says. "We've gotten to perform a lot together and there's nothing better."


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