What can I do, my dear, to catch your ear
I love you madly, madly Madam Librarian…Marian
Heaven help us if the library caught on fire
And the Volunteer Hose Brigademen
Had to whisper the news to Marian…Madam Librarian!
Ah, Marian Paroo (aka Marian the Librarian) from The Music Man. I grew up on movie musicals, so this gal will forever be my version of the perfect, old school librarian. Glasses! Cardigan! Hair in a bun! Prim, shy, naive, but quietly ambitious; she’s a quintessential young woman of the fifties from a small town, putting up with her nagging mother who just wishes she’d marry some local boy. Even though Marian exudes independence and work ethic, she desperately wishes for a special someone. Not only is she the town’s librarian, but she’s also a part-time piano teacher. This talent catches the eye of con man/traveling salesman Harold Hill, the eponymous Music Man, who flirts and causes “trouble” all over – “with a capital T and that rhymes with P and that stands for pool!” Of course things turn out well in the end – Harold doesn’t go to jail despite defrauding everyone in town, and although he looks and sings (unfortunately) like Robert Preston, he manages to snag Shirley Jones. Quite a catch, if you ask me.
The Music Man became a hit on Broadway in 1957, five years before it became a hit on film; it won five Tony Awards and ran for an incredible 1,375 performances. Marian was actually based on a real-life medical records librarian, Marian Seeley, who met the play’s writer during World War II.
The musical has since been revived on Broadway twice – once in 1980 and again in 2000 – and in 2003 it was remade into a film starring Matthew Broderick and Kristin Chenoweth.
Here’s a video of Harold attempting to woo his Madame Librarian with song: