THEATRE REVIEW: Sound of Music a peak performance
I could use the same cliché for every time I have written about The Sound of Music.
You know how it goes. It has to do with the first song you hear performed by that flibbertigibbet girl who lives in the Abbey.
Staged at the Vernon Performing Arts Centre this past Friday and Saturday, this amateur production of The Sound of Music saw hills, make that mountains, come alive once again.
I have been an admitted fan of the 1965 movie since I was a young girl. So much so that I remember going up to a couple of long-haired boys wearing KISS T-shirts in a record shop and suggesting they get a copy of The Sound of Music soundtrack. Their reaction, dumbfounded. But hopefully, they gave it a listen!
Produced by Sparkling Hill Resort (fitting considering the Austrian roots of the resort’s owners), as well as local soprano/vocal studio owner Melina Moore, this production was based on the 1960 musical written by Rodgers and Hammerstein.
The musical had superb orchestration and pacing and used simple staging (including projected scenes of Salzburg on the performing arts centre’s giant screen) to its effectiveness. At a cool two hours and 15 minutes, it managed to tell the story and include all those beloved songs without leaving one feeling empty.
This production also had the added bonus of the Okanagan Symphony performing the score and accompaniment. Led by an enthusiastic Rosemary Thomson on the baton, who could be seen mouthing all the words and smiling at the youngsters on stage, the musicians and vocalists were superb, and really brought the show to life.
(Kudos especially to the small, unseen chorus in the pit who added to the heavenly voices of the nuns, and later could be seen accepting the second and third place awards at the Salzburg festival. Brava, ladies!)
And where they found all those incredible talents to play the seven von Trapp children right here in this little, old valley of ours is beyond me. From the youngest, Ava MacDougall (Gretl), to the oldest, Ella Kuntz (Liesl), the kids were on top of their game –– even when some distortion on their microphone headsets arose.
Let’s just say, the future looks bright for these youth to take on more stage roles as they grow older.
And then came this age-old question. Just how do you solve a problem like Maria? Well, you get the truly blessed voice of Melina Moore to take on the role.
Moore, known for directing local productions of Les Miz, The Producers and Pirates of Penzance, came out from behind the scenes to show not only what her voice can do, but her acting chops. What can you say? She is the total package. Her Maria was extremely likeable. Her chemistry, especially with the children, was believable, and her voice, well, magical. Every song was pitch perfect and keyed to hit high notes not tangible for most humans.
Not only did she match beautifully with her “brood” of seven in numbers such as Do-Re-Mi and The Lonely Goatherd (the required yodelling in that song alone is enough to trip up the tongue), her duets with the Captain (Paul Rossetti) were subtle enough so that she didn’t drown out her co-star’s light and agile tenor.
And although he obviously is not a guitar player, Rossetti’s performance of Edelweiss in the Salzburg Festival scene was absolutely beautiful. Just like in the film, with Christopher Plummer performing the role, he had many in the audience with a big ol’ lump in their throats.
Don Cecile and Susan Currie also did their best with their stuffy and sly characters (Max Detweiler and Elsa Schraeder) bringing much comic relief.
As Mother Abbess (Susan Evans) sang so beautifully: “Climb every mountain... ‘til you find your dream.” I think the cast and crew of this production of The Sound of Music found their peak performance.
Sparkling Hill Resort is staging The Sound of Music as part of its New Year’s Eve two-night celebration package at the resort. To find out more, visit the resort’s website at sparklinghillresort.com or call (877) 275-1556.