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These kids were just about perfect!

No matter how many times I’ve seen The Sound of Music; it doesn’t get old.  Marriott Theater’s new production of the Rodgers and Hammerstein classic is one of the best.  There are seven reasons I say this – the seven Von Trapp children – who are amazing!  The rest of the cast is pretty darn good too!  All in all, I think everyone (except a couple of curmudgeons I know) will love this show.  4 BIG Spotlights      

I’m sure you know the story.  A novice named Maria (Addie Morales) doesn’t quite fit in at the Abbey, so she’s sent to be governess for the seven von Trapp children, just until September.  She wins over the kids by teaching them to sing, falls in love with their father, runs back to the Abbey to get away from him, faces her fears and marries him, all while the Nazis loom grimly in the background.

Morales (just off a successful run as Evita at Drury Lane) plays Maria with just the right amount of joy and youthful spontaneity.  Her Maria isn’t thrilled about going to the Von Trapp residence, but she’ll make the best of it.  She has an absolutely wonderful voice, too.  When she sang the title song, The Sound of Music, I got goosebumps.

Erik Hellman plays Captain von Trapp, a proud man who shut down when his wife died.  Although he loves his children, he distances himself from them by treating them like naval recruits – blowing his whistle to summon them – and by leaving them in the care of a series of governesses.   Hellman is a very good actor, but he doesn’t have the strong voice he needs for this part.  The weakness was obvious during his solo rendition of Edelweiss.

As the Mother Abbess, Daniella Dalli was awesome.  She was kind, loving, wise and diplomatic – as was obvious when she tried to make a decision about Maria with Sister Berthe (Susan Moniz), Mistress of Novices and Sister Margaretta (Lydia Burke), Mistress of Postulants.  Dalli’s rendition of Climb Ev’ry Mountain brought down the house!

The children are the heart of The Sound of Music.  These kids were just about perfect, acting and singing just as well as the adults in the cast.  They could have been part of a drill team when they responded to their father’s whistle.  You’ll only get glimpses of the personalities of the five younger kids, Louisa, (Milla Liss), Kurt (Archer Geye), Brigitta (Omi Lichtenstein), Marta (Olivia O’Sullivan) and Gretl (Reese Bella), but they’re are cute as they can be – and they can yodel!

Liesl (Campbell Krausen) has a tiny crush on Rolf (Emmet Smith), the telegraph boy.  Rolf reciprocates that crush in Sixteen Going on Seventeen, a slightly defiant declaration of almost adulthood.  Liesl and Friedrich (Brody Tyner) are young enough to play with their siblings, yet old enough to understand the tense situation around them.

Max Detweiler (Rob Lindley), who has just enough swagger, is a survivor looking out for number one.  When he hears the children sing, he’s determined they will sing in his festival, even though he knows their father won’t permit it.  His line about his new title … “… before I was Third Secretary.” is one of my favorites.  His friend, Frau Elsa Schraeder (played to perfection by Heidi Kettenring) is ruthlessly pragmatic.  She’s already wealthy (lots of money inherited from her elderly first husband), now she’s set her sights on the wealthy and handsome Captain Von Trapp.  Both Max and Elsa advise the Captain to go along with the Germans in a song called No Way to Stop It.

With a glorious score by Rodgers and Hammerstein, The Sound of Music has some of my favorite songs including: My Favorite Things, Maria, Do-Re-Mi, The Lonely Goatherd, So Long, Farewell and title song The Sound of Music.