Triangle Arts and Entertainment – News and Reviews Theatre Dance Music Arts

DPAC’s The Sound of Music Is Fresh and Emotional

Almost everyone knows the true (albeit slightly embellished) story of the von Trapp children and their governess, Maria, as told in the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical and adapted into a celebrated film of the same name in 1965.

Kerstin Anderson stars as Maria Rainer in <em>The Sound of Music</em> (photo by Matthew Murphy)

Kerstin Anderson stars as Maria Rainer in The Sound of Music (photo by Matthew Murphy)

The famed Maria is a misfit nun who is sent to experience a different sort of life by caring for this troubled family. Just in case one is a little rusty, the basic story is that the family, which consists of seven children of varied ages, is living in Austria in 1938, a time when the Germans were executing their horrific power. They are lost and sad following the death of their mother, and Maria, portrayed in DPAC’s fine production by the fabulously charming Kerstin Anderson, brings life, light, and most importantly of all, music into their previously-morose lives.

DPAC’s fresh production opens with the nuns praying in the Nonnberg Abbey. Soon after, the focus shifts to Maria, who sings the play’s title hit, proving her vocal chops right away, her angelic voice matching the majestic mountain set behind her. Featuring a cute, modernized bob as opposed to the standard super-short haircut typical of “Maria” actresses, she is plucky, cheerful, and likable from the start- a picture-perfect Maria.

Equally plucky in her own right is The Mother Abbess (Daniella Dalli), who, as the script would lead one to believe, sees a bit of herself in Maria and feels a connection and a deep sympathy for her. When she sends Maria away to her newfound governess duties early in the production, it is obvious she does so with Maria’s best interests at heart, thanks to the kind, quirky portrayal offered up by Dalli.

At Maria’s new home, she (and the delighted audience) finds a cast of adorable, believably portrayed children, not to mention a wonderfully rustic and authentic attic set that serves as Maria’s bedroom. Through several genuinely moving and touching scenes, Maria slowly warms the heart of these children and their father. The subtle, never-forced direction of Jack O’Brien allows the emotional moments to impact viewers in a more authentic way than ever before.

While all of the children are as adorable as one would expect, standouts include energetic Svea Elizabeth Johnson as the can’t-tell-a-lie Brigitta and, of course, Audrey Bennett as the cute, young Gretl.

Aside from the hard-hitting emotional scenes and the charming children, which are almost a given at any well-done Sound of Music production, this particular rendition boasts fabulous, never overdone choreography by Danny Meford. Meford’s careful choreography always showcases the emotions and growing closeness of the characters onstage and is never so “big” as to detract from this powerful, timeless story.

Merwin Foard (left), Teri Dale Hansen, and Ben Davis star as Max Detweiler, Elsa Schraeder, and Capt. Georg von Trapp (photo by Matthew Murphy)

Merwin Foard (left), Teri Dale Hansen, and Ben Davis star as Max Detweiler, Elsa Schraeder, and Capt. Georg von Trapp (photo by Matthew Murphy)

Speaking of powerful, Ben Davis makes for an arresting Captain von Trapp and absolutely nails the emotional undertones of “Edelweiss,” in which his character says good-bye to a country he once believed in and loved so wholeheartedly but which he must now turn his back on.

While most have seen The Sound of Music Before, this production truly has somethig special. The multi-layered dialogue and songs really shine in this careful, crisp production, which breathes new life into an old favorite. It’s an absolute must see for longtime fans of the story and newcomers alike.

The Durham Performing Arts Center presents THE SOUND OF MUSIC at 7:30 p.m. Dec. 2 and 3, 8 p.m. Dec. 4, 2 and 8 p.m. Dec. 5, and 1 and 6:30 p.m. Dec. 6 at 123 Vivian St., Durham, North Carolina 27701, in the American Tobacco Historic District.

TICKETS: $30-$145. Click here for DPAC Special Offers.


DPAC Box Office: 919-680-ARTS (2787),, or

Ticketmaster: 800-982-2787 or

GROUP RATES (15+ tickets): 919/281-0587,, or

SHOW: and


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NOTE: Arts Access, Inc. of Raleigh will audio-describe the show’s 8 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 5th, performance.


The Story of the Trapp Family Singers (1949 memoir): (Wikipedia).

The Memoir: (Google Books).

Baroness Maria Augusta von Trapp (née Kutschera, author, 1905-1987): (Wikipedia).

The Sound of Music (1959 Broadway and 1961 West End musical): (Rodgers & Hammerstein Organization), (Internet Broadway Database), and (Wikipedia).

The Sound of Music (1965 film): (Turner Classic Movies page), (Internet Movie Database), (Facebook page), (Twitter page), and (Wikipedia).

Movie vs. Reality: The Real Story of the von Trapp Family by Joan Gearin: (Winter 2005, Vol. 37, No. 4, of Prologue magazine, published by the U.S. National Archives and Records Administration).

Richard Rodgers (composer, 1902-79): (Rodgers & Hammerstein Organization bio), (Internet Broadway Database), (Internet Movie Database), and (Wikipedia).

Oscar Hammerstein II (lyricist, 1895-1960): (Rodgers & Hammerstein Organization bio), (Internet Broadway Database), (Internet Movie Database), and (Wikipedia).

Howard Lindsay (playwright, 1889-1968): (Rodgers & Hammerstein Organization bio), (Internet Broadway Database), (Internet Movie Database), and (Wikipedia).

Russel Crouse (playwright, 1893-1966): (Rodgers & Hammerstein Organization bio), (Internet Broadway Database), (Internet Movie Database, and (Wikipedia).

Jack O’Brien (director): (tour bio), (Internet Broadway Database), (Internet Movie Database), and (Wikipedia).


Susie Potter is a Raleigh, NC-based freelance writer and editor. She is a 2009 graduate of Raleigh’s Meredith College, where she majored in English. She holds graduate degrees in teaching and American literature from North Carolina State University in Raleigh. In addition to her work for Triangle Arts and Entertainment, she is an award-winning author of short fiction. Her works have appeared in The Colton Review, Raleigh Quarterly, Broken Plate Magazine, Big Muddy: A Journal of the Mississippi River Valley, the Chaffey Review, and Existere. To read all of Susie Potter’s Triangle Arts and Entertainment articles and reviews, click To read more of her writings, click and

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Categorised in: A&E Theatre Reviews, Lead Story, Reviews

3 Responses

  1. I thought The Sound of Music exhibited DPAC’s typically well-done, extremely professional standards but Anderson’s portrayal of Maria was a distraction each time she appeared on stage. Her vocal talents were up to the role but her constant over-done facial expressions and contorted body movements would have fit much better in a musical/comedy/farce. Her performance was a letdown in an otherwise enjoyable show.

  2. Really, Will? I thought she was adorable!!

  3. I agree with Will. Anderson seemed more like the awkwardly adorable girl you would see in an 8th grade production of this show. It was painful to watch. The others were great. Some really amazing voices. But I would not recommend the show because it’s central character was so clunky.