Beautiful Voices Shine in THE SOUND OF MUSIC

by Walter Bender

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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