Back to show

There has never been another production like it

On the heels of the Marriott’s highly recommended production of “West Side Story,” eight-time Jeff Award-winner, Nick Bowling returns to guide and lend his creative touch to a new production of what has become Rodgers & Hammerstein’s most popular musical. This beloved family story is magnificently realized and brilliantly performed in a way that makes Marriott’s imaginative production feel fresh and new. It fills the arena stage with glorious music and honest, three-dimensional performances, as well as some spectacular sights and sounds. This fictionalized biographical story will no doubt be familiar to audiences due to the popularity of the beloved 1965 film. But the splendor found in the movie’s sweeping Austrian vistas and Julie Andrews’ dazzling portrayal of Maria von Trapp are fully matched here in this live, heartfelt production.

Given the demands of staging this show in-the-round, so that audiences seated on all four sides of the stage are able to see as much as possible, this production both meets this demand and is beautiful to the eye and ear. Patti Garwood’s talented 9-member pit orchestra fills the Marriott with Richard Rodgers‘ rich, romantic Alpine-flavored score. The artistic team of Collette Pollard and Jesse Klug, whose collaboration results in a gorgeous Scenic and Lighting Design, have worked with Anthony Churchill’s spectacular Projections to surround the actors and audience with a spectacular vista of  mountains and valleys. Even the thunder and lightning of an approaching rainstorm looks and sounds realistic, especially as it lights up the cliffs and peaks of the Alps. Rodgers & Hammerstein and book writers Howard Lindsay and Robert Crouse would’ve been proud of what the Marriott Lincolnshire Theatre has accomplished.

As Maria, Addie Morales makes her auspicious Marriott debut. Recently wowing audiences at Drury Lane as Eva Peron in “Evita,” and delighting audiences and critics alike as a different Maria, in Barrington Stage’s “West Side Story,” this gifted actress/singer brings all her skill and talent to this role. Beginning her performance singing the lovely title song with heartfelt clarity and passion, the audience immediately knows they’re in for a stellar production. When Maria reaches Mother Abbess’ office, with accomplished Daniella Dalli in full, rich voice, we fall in love with this trusting, unaffected young postulant. Their gorgeous duet of “My Favorite Things” is natural and lighthearted, providing additional dimension to both characters.

Once Maria finds herself in the company of the seven adorable children entrusted to her care, Ms Morales has become the audience’s favorite. She’s an honest, believable young woman, filled with insecurities, love and a reverence for both God and music, while possessing a great sense of humor and childlike wonder. By the time the audience sees her marry Captain von Trapp, then stand by her family’s side in the musical festival, and finally “Climb Every Mountain” to escape the Nazis, Addie Morales has made Maria a performance to remember for all time.

As Captain von Trapp, Erik Hellman appears a little bit uncomfortable and stiff at the beginning, but he eventually loosens up and becomes a likable father. Of course, this is the journey his character must take, so Hellman’s Captain seems perfectly in keeping with the demands of the role. While Erik Hellman may not be the most accomplished singer in this production, he makes the most of the show’s musical demands. Hellman brings class and stature to his role, and his stiff posture gradually bends as Maria fills the Captain’s life with love and music.

Campbell Krausen is magnificent as Liesl, and she’s actually “Sixteen Going on Seventeen,” making her Marriott debut performance as honest as it gets. It’s heartwarming watching her budding trust and love grow for Maria. The scene between Liesl and her telegram delivery boyfriend is charming, humorous and realistic. Their duet is beautifully sung and danced, as well. Rolf is portrayed with charming believability by Emmet Smith, the actor thankfully avoiding the angry young man syndrome often found in most portrayals of this role. He’s goofy and sweet as he attempts to be both Liesl’s mentor and boyfriend.The other six von Trapp children are all wonderfully cast. Brody Tyner displays an accomplished male soprano voice as Frederich and Archer Geye makes Kurt a lovable, real little boy with a powerful voice. Milla Liss’ bookish Louisa, Omi Lichtenstein’s unabashedly honest Brigitta, Olivia O’Sullivan’s charming little Marta and Reese Bella’s sweet baby Gretl round out this artistic family of juvenile stars, all of whom are also making their Marriott debuts. Whether running and dancing all over the stage together, marching around the house singing “Do Re Mi” or bouncing on Maria’s bed while belting out “The Lonely Goatherd,” to mask a frightening thunderstorm, these children become the true stars of this production.

Chicago favorite Heidi Kettenring surprises her fans by playing the heavy in this production, bringing cool class and her signature, gorgeous soprano voice to snobby Baroness Elsa Schraeder. She’s paired with Rob Lindley as caustically comic and sophisticated wheeler-dealer, Max Detweiler. Many other Chicago favorites appear in this production, including Laura T. Fisher and Mark Ulrich as the Captain’s competent house staff, Frau Schmidt and Franz.

Bathed in candlelight, the Nuns of Nonnberg Abbey open the show, setting the bar high for this top-notch production. These talented singers raise their angelic voices in a resplendent praise of God that will bookend this musical. And if the sheer power and beauty behind so many accomplished voices aren’t enough to impress, there are a few of the nuns who lend their comic timing, reverence and superb voices as specific canoness characters. They include Susan Moniz, Lydia Burke, Ana Silva, Elaine Cotter, as Sister Berthe, Sister Margaretta, Sister Sophia and a new Postulant. Their collective performance of “Preludium,” “Morning Hymn,” “Godeamus Domino” and the finale of “Climb Every Mountain,” all sung with Daniella Dalli, are absolutely breathtaking, thanks to the excellent Musical Direction by Ryan T. Nelson. And William Carlos Angulo adds a bit of whimsy to the production with his choreography and musical staging.

This warmly-directed production of a musical that most audiences will be familiar with is infused with spectacle and wonder. An excellent first musical experience for young audiences, this “Sound of Music” will impress theatre patrons with its abundance of musical and dramatic talent, creating a feeling of family, honesty and hope. Audiences should climb every mountain standing in their way to see this production of a true American classic. There has never been another production like it.