(Front Row from L-R) Wyeth Casperite as Kurt, Jordan McAndrew as Brigitta, Isabella Yackanicz as Marta, Carly Silberman as Gretl, Jocelyn Shank as Louisa, (Back Row from L-R) Andrew Skitko as Captain Von Trapp, Abigail Allwein as Maria, Katie Stahl as Liesl, Trent Soto as Frederich in THE SOUND OF MUSIC at Steel River Playhouse. (Photo credit: John Daggett)

Beautiful Voices Shine in THE SOUND OF MUSIC

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The story of the Von Trapp Family Singers is one of the more inspirational tales from the World War II era. The romanticized account of that story has charmed people for over 50 years. THE SOUND OF MUSIC is the latest production at Steel River Playhouse, and it carries on that tradition quite nicely.

THE SOUND OF MUSIC opens in the Nonnberg Abbey, where Maria (Abigail Allwein) is one of the postulants. She is sent to the villa of Captain von Trapp (Andrew Skitko) to serve as governess to his 7 children. She teaches the children to sing, and charms them with her infectious sweetness. Von Trapp returns from a trip with Elsa Schrader (Megan Eckley) and Max Detweiler (Ben Fried). Max is putting together the annual music festival, and Elsa is von Trapp’s would-be fiancée. Von Trapp has a party to introduce Elsa to the community, and in the course of the evening, von Trapp and Maria end up dancing together, which awakens feelings in them both. Maria returns to the abbey, allegedly ready to take her vows, but the Mother Abbess (Sharon Eyster) recognizes that Maria actually is running from her emotions. She tells Maria to face von Trapp and to decide which life is her destiny.

Artistic Director of Steel River, Gene Terruso, directed this production, and brought this beautiful story to life. Allwein is charming as Maria, bringing a sweetness to the character that captures the audience’s heart. Skitko delivers a fine performance as Captain von Trapp, initially strict, but softens as Maria charms both he and his children. The children all were solid (with double-casting, you may see different children than I.) Eckley was regal and practical as von Schraeder. Fried gave a terrific performance as Detweiler, a man treading a very fine line. Eyster was brilliant as Mother Abbess, both stern and understanding, and her rendition of “Climb Every Mountain” was tremendous.

The set (Scenic Design, Chris Whelan) was functional, the cast moving pieces in and out during scene changes and some very cute and funny interplay to keep the audience engaged. Costumes (Costume Design, Ally Boughter) were beautiful, evoking the period of the time. Choreography (Stace Michaud) was simple yet very effective, especially with the children’s numbers. The music (Musical Director, Heidi Starr) was beautiful, voices pure and solid, all the recognizable numbers very well done.

This is a very solid production. The pace lags a bit at times, but with a show in excess of 3 hours (with intermission) that is likely to happen. However, the audience is charmed and engaged throughout.

Music and Lyrics by Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II
Book by Howard Lindsay and Russell Crouse
Directed by Gene Terruso, Musical Direction by Heidi Starr
December 4 – 14, 2014
Steel River Playhouse
245 E High Street, Pottstown, PA 19464


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Walter Bender

Walter Bender

Walter Bender is a veteran of over 35 years performing all over the country. He attended Texas Lutheran University as a Theatre Arts and Vocal Performance major. While in college he toured much of the Southern and Western states with various acting and singing groups. He appeared briefly on radio in San Antonio and on TV in Miami while in college. Moving back to PA, he has performed in well over 100 amateur and professional theatrical productions, and directed dozens more throughout the Mid-Atlantic region. Among his favorite roles are Lt. Colonel Jessup (A Few Good Men), Daddy Warbucks (Annie), and most recently he was George in Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? Arguably his favorite theatrical memory was creating the role of Alan Frick in A Fast Train to Heaven for Bill Gottshall Productions. He is co-founder of Spring-Ford Community Theater, has served as Managing Director of 2 different theaters, Artistic Director of a third and President of another. He worked for the Delaware Valley Arts Institute, where he worked with many wonderful artists and instructors, culminating in being selected to facilitate a post-graduate course at St. Joseph’s University in Philadelphia. Currently he serves on the board of directors for dcp theatre as their Director of Corporate Communications.

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