Growing up in Mason City, Iowa, the musician and playwright Meredith Willson remembered Wells Fargo wagons delivering all sorts of goods to the townspeople — maple sugar, a gray mackinaw, or a crosscut saw. Wells Fargo has been a financial services company since , but the lore of the company is associated with transportation — stagecoach, railroad, and Pony Express. Later, express messengers delivered items to customers aboard wagons pulled by one or two horses.
Harold is no musician, however, and plans to skip town without giving any music lessons. Prim librarian and piano teacher Marian sees through him, but when Harold helps her younger brother overcome his lisp and social awkwardness, Marian begins to fall in love. Harold risks being caught to win her. In , the show became a hit on Broadway , winning five Tony Awards , including Best Musical, and running for 1, performances. The show's success led to revivals, including a long-running Broadway revival, a popular film adaptation and a television adaptation. It is frequently produced by both professional and amateur theater companies.
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The film is based on the Broadway musical of the same name by Meredith Willson. The film was one of the biggest hits of the year and highly acclaimed critically. The film opens in July , with a traveling salesman being chased onto a train just about to depart. As the train gets underway, the salesmen on the train get into a rhythmic conversation about credit that veers off to discussion of the con man 'Professor' Harold Hill "Rock Island". After the train arrives in River City, Iowa , 'Professor' Harold Hill Robert Preston reveals himself to the others on the train before getting off, ready to swindle the famously stubborn citizens " Iowa Stubborn ". Masquerading as a band instructor, Hill plans to con the townspeople into paying him to create a boys' marching band. Once he has collected their payment and the instruments and uniforms have arrived, he will hop the next train out of town, leaving them without their money or a band. He convinces them that a marching band is the only way to keep the boys out of trouble, and begins collecting their money " 76 Trombones ". Anticipating that Marian Shirley Jones , the town's librarian and piano instructor, will attempt to discredit him, Hill sets out to seduce her into silence. Also in opposition to Hill is the town's Mayor Shinn Paul Ford , owner of the billiard parlor, who orders the school board to obtain Hill's credentials.