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The Sound of Music at Claire vg Thomas Theatre

The Claire is Alive with The Sound of Music
by Zoe Bronstein
When Teri Grimes gave her opening night speech for The Sound of Music, she warned the audience “This is NOT a sing-a-long.” The famous Rodgers & Hammerstein show, with book by Howard Lindsay and Russel Crouse, does need that disclaimer, because nearly every song from Do-Re-Mi to My Favorite Things, to Sixteen Going on Seventeen, and more, has become a classic in its own right thanks to the 1965 movie version starring Julie Andrews. Heed director Grimes’ warning: don’t sing along if you can help it. You’ll miss out on hearing some truly beautiful voices.

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The well-known musical is based on the memoir of Maria von Trapp, The Story of the Trapp Family Singers. In short, the plot concerns Maria’s move from awkward postulant to governess in pre-World War II Austria. She unwittingly wins the heart of her employer, a decorated military man sought after by the Third Reich. After much deliberation, they marry, but must escape Nazi occupation in a dramatic final scene.
Laura Loween, as Maria, brings a gentle disposition and soothing, effortless vibrato to every song. She is cast opposite Leif Egertson as Captain von Trapp. Their chemistry together is not noticeable at first, as Egertson must intimidate and tower over the diminutive Loween, but as the Captain softens towards her, their pairing seems more and more sweet.
Deborah Ogle plays the Mother Abbess who first sends Maria to work for the von Trapps, and she is simply wonderful. She presents a more lighthearted interpretation of a traditionally somber character, and her voice is magnificent. If I had Ogle sing “Climb Every Mountain” to me every time I had a problem I didn’t want to face, life would be so much more epic.
But it wouldn’t be The Sound of Music without the children. Megan Sutton, Jonathan Henry, Emma Jardinski, Daniel Jardinski, Josiah Rinehart, Kathryn McKinney, Lillian Holt, Gracie Macdonald, Grace Jardinski, and Meg Clarke make up the seven von Trapp children, with three of the roles double-cast. More than just making pretty harmonies while looking adorable together, they believably interact like siblings onstage.
Megan Sutton, as eldest daughter Liesl, has her own storyline with Ian Slater as Rolfe, her love interest. Their “Sixteen Going on Seventeen” is a great song and dance number filled with romantic tension.
Music director Cindy Henninger conducts a chorus made up of primarily female voices, and especially during the religious music in the convent, the voices soar. Period costumes are provided by Genny Cohn, with set design by her husband David Cohn. Ryan Goelzenleuchter is the light designer, and he washes the stage in a warm, romantic glow for much of the first part of the production. The hills mentioned in “The Hills Are Alive” are as much a character in the show as the rest of the cast, and they are represented by a colorful backdrop by artist Cindy Moe.
Performances of The Sound of Music play September 24-26, October 2-4, 9-11 at 7:30pm. Matinees are at 2pm on September 27 and 28, and October 4 and 12. Tickets are available at the door and at http://www.clairevgtheatre.com.