It’s a very brave thing to do the original stage version of THE SOUND OF MUSIC when you know it will be compared to one of the most successful movie musicals of all time. Methacton Community Theater gets a “thank you” for this attempt.
Nicolette Addice in the lead role of Maria has a sweet voice and grows into the part. Her performance is one of the strong points of the show. The children, all seven of them, were the best thing. Lisa Bassett (Lisa), Drew Carr (Freidrich), Bishon Prushankin (Louisa), Quinton Ritchie (Kurt), Marissa Garcia-Kaliner (Brigitta), Julianna DiGiovanni (Marta) and Elizabeth Kirsch (Gretl) were all super. I was particularly taken with Ms. Prushankin, who lights up on stage, Ms. Garcia-Kaliner who, as the bratty kid, had the most lines and handled them quite well, Ms. Kirsch, who as the littlest Von Trappe child was cute as a button, and Ms. Bassett who impressed with her skilled dancing.
Mark DiGiovanni made his stage debut as Captain Von Trappe. His performance grew in strength as the evening progressed. The comic character of Max was played to the hilt by Chuck DeLong. He made the most of all his lines and sang well. All Rogers and Hammerstein shows have an older, wiser part for a woman in them. Aunt Eller in Oklahoma!, Nettie Fowler in Carousel, Grandma in Allegro and in THE SOUND OF MUSIC—The Mother Abbess. Joan Labosh as the Abbess sang her heart out in Hammerstein’s hymn to what was the positive nature of his personality, Climb Ev’ry Mountain.
The music is the real star of THE SOUND OF MUSIC. Rodgers produced some really complex choral music for the nuns to sing. He struck just the right note (no pun intended) for the Austrian background in My Favorite Things and Edelweiss. It’s interesting to note that the last song in THE SOUND OF MUSIC, Edelweiss, was the last lyric ever written by Oscar Hammerstein. He was so ill that he turned the book writing over to Lindsey & Crouse who had had success with the family drama, Life With Father. High Points of Methacton’s production were the songs involving the kids and Maria—The Lonely Goatherd and Do Re Mi.
Dee Surprenant’s choreography was at its best in a particularly good country dance between the Captain and Maria. Technically, the rear projections on the set were spectacular. The lighting and sound effects were exceptionally well handled by the ever reliable Tom Dinnella and Ray DiSandro.
THE SOUND OF MUSIC is an episodic show with 13 scenes in the first act and 7 in the second. The amount of scene changes called for by Director Lauren Franz made for very long stage waits. This took a toll on the pacing and audience restlessness. Ms. Franz might have used the time honored device of the cover scene or part of a scene to cut down on the waits. Perhaps a little less scenery would have worked better as well.
Ken Brown did his best to provide music cover for the long scene changes. He had his charges musically well prepared. I missed the superb orchestra from MCT’s earlier SEUSSICAL. Jennifer Weinstein, doing double duty as a singing nun and the flautist, added some color and body to the piano and cello that provided the accompaniment.
I’m sure the show will tighten up and the kids are worth the admission price.
THE SOUND OF MUSIC
Music by Richard Rodgers
Lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II
Book by Howard Lindsay and Russel Crouse
Directed by Lauren Franz
October 8 – 17, 2010
Methacton Community Theater
Shannondell Performing Arts Center
10000 Shannondell Blvd
Audubon, PA 19403