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[Addie Morales] charms as soon as the spotlight first hits her

For most of us—those reviewing theater or those thinking about attending or just about anyone, I guess—Rodgers and Hammerstein’s The Sound of Music is omnipresent. Just a part of our existence. The original soundtrack in everyone’s grandmother’s vinyl collection, with all of those songs. The 1960s film version that once played on television annually, a family event (at least for mine). And all of the attached memories. It’s like The Wizard of Oz or The Bible or The Beatles. It just is and always has been, and we all have some kind of connection to it.

So, with that in mind, I was both excited to see the Marriott Theater’s new production of The Sound of Music, but also wondered how anyone might put on a production that can compete with memory, with perfection, with Julie Andrews. But, like so many other wonderful Marriott shows, Nick Bowling’s The Sound of Music delights.

The level of talent on the stage becomes clear right from the start. Nuns from an Austrian abbey parade down the theater-in-the-round’s four aisles with candles, then launch into the show’s opening “Preludium.” With all the beloved classic songs to come, this is still the moment of the show that stuck with me most—the cast throws down the gauntlet, announcing they can sing, and do they ever. I got chills from the acapella chorus. I’ve got chills remembering it as I type.

And then we meet Maria. While no Julie Andrews, Marriott newcomer Addie Morales doesn’t need to be. She’s herself, and she charms as soon as the spotlight first hits her. A lovely singer who shows off her range, it’s her overall being that shines from the stage just as much as her voice. Again, while all her own woman, Morales shares Andrews’ ability to draw the eye and ear whenever she’s onstage.

But the rest of the cast, those not in the nunnery, are every bit as good. The children, who I worried might be hamming or annoying, were all very genuine. Campbell Krausen, who plays 16-year-old Leisl, not only shows awkward teenage chemistry with Emmet Smith’s Rolf, she really seems to encourage and mother-hen her onstage siblings. Brody Tyner as Friedrich has not just astonishing vocal chops, but accompanies on guitar on a couple numbers. Erik Hellman plays Captain Georg Von Trapp, family patriarch with a rough edge that eventually softens.

Marriott’s ensemble, as always, is consummate. Heidi Kettenring and Rob Lindley really work as the two on-the-fence Nazis who provide a bit of drama and plot to this story that’s really about all those songs. And those songs... Again, the entire cast can sing. And they’re made all the better by conductor Patti Garwood’s orchestra. And, if you want to realize just what songs they are, what a show this is, and what a wonderful production that The Marriott Theatre is presenting of The Sound of Music, find out for yourself, now through June 5 in Lincolnshire.