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

The Sound of Music Soars at DPAC!

Kerstin Anderson as Maria Rainer teaches the von Trapp children "Do-Re-Mi" in <em>The Sound of Music</em> (photo by Matthew Murphy)

Kerstin Anderson as Maria Rainer teaches the von Trapp children “Do-Re-Mi” in The Sound of Music (photo by Matthew Murphy)

The current National Tour of The Sound of Music, now delighting Durham Performing Arts Center patrons, is a fresh, new take on the perenially popular 1959 Broadway and 1961 West End musical, with frisky musical staging by 76 years young three-time Tony Award®-winning director Jack O’Brien (Hairspray in 2003, Henry IV in 2004, and The Coast of Utopia, Parts 1-3 in 2007) and vivacious production numbers by choreographer Danny Mefford (Fun Home, The Bridges of Madison County, and Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson).

The circa 1938 Austrian and German fashions by 81-year-old 2014 Tony Award® Special Award for Lifetime Achievement recipient Jane Greenwood are certainly eye-catching, and the atmospheric illumination by Tony-winning lighting designer Natasha Katz underscores the mood in every scene. But it is the soaring sets of Tony-nominated scenic designer Douglas W. Schmidt and the stellar performances of the young and talented touring cast that catapault this Grove Entertainment and Ted Chapin production into the “must-see musical” category.

Kerstin Anderson is warm and wonderful as the “flibbertigibbet ” postulant Maria Rainer, whose lust for life and tendency to burst into song at inappropriate moments scandalizes many of her fellow nuns in oh-so-sober Nonnberg Abbey in Salzburg, Austria. Anderson is strong of voice and passionate in her portrayal; and so is Ben Davis, who imbues his performance World War I Austro-Hungarian Navy submarine commander with equal intensity and makes his gradual transformation from martinet on the homefront to compassionate father and employer of, and later husband to Maria, tug at the audience’s heartstrings.

Ben Davis delivers a stirring version of "Edelweiss" at the Kaltzberg Festival (photo by Matthew Murphy)

Ben Davis delivers a stirring version of “Edelweiss” at the Kaltzberg Festival (photo by Matthew Murphy)

Merwin Foard gives a crowd-pleasing performance as Capt. von Trapp’s old friend, musical impresario Max Detweiler, a suave and very, very ambitious Man-of-the-World. Max remains a steadfast friend of the von Trapps, despite his desire to exploit the opportunities that the Anschluss offers a man who can suppress his scruples to go-along, get-along with the functionaries of the new Third Reich of Nazi Germany.

Merwin Foard’s droll portrayal of Max Detweiler as a Man-on-the-Make is one of the show’s comic highlights. Carey Rebecca Brown and Julia Osborne are also amusing as s Sister Berthe, the Mistress of Novices, and Sister Margaretta, the Mistress of Postulants, who storm the office of the Mother Abbess (superbly played and sung by Daniella Dalli on opening night, Dec. 1st) to complain about Maria’s alleged impieties.

Also deserving special mention are Teri Dale Hansen, who plays Capt. von Trapp’s urbane girlfriend, the wealthy widow and businesswoman Baroness Elsa Schraeder; Paige Silvester, who portrays his 16-going-on-17-year-old daughter Liesl; and Dan Tracy, who plays Liesl’s 17-year-old boyfriend, telegram delivery boy Rolf Gruber, a Nazi sympathizer who is torn between his love for Liesl and his loyalty to the party. The rest of the supporting cast of this terrific touring version of The Sound of Music provides strong support, and helped earn the show a hearty — and unusually lengthy — standing ovation on Tuesday night. It is a great show that should earn considerable do-re-mi for the Durham Performing Arts Center.

Rolf's Nazi sympathies eventually derail the romance between Paige Silvester as Liesl and Dan Tracy as Rolf (photo by Matthew Murphy)

Rolf’s Nazi sympathies eventually derail the romance between Paige Silvester as Liesl and Dan Tracy as Rolf (photo by Matthew Murphy)

SECOND OPINION: Dec. 2nd Raleigh, NC Raleigh review by Jeffrey Kare:; Dec. 2nd Durham, NC Herald-Sun review by Dawn Baumgartner Vaughan: and Nov. 25th preview by Dawn Baumgartner Vaughan: (Note: You must subscribe to read these articles); Dec. 2nd Burlington, NC Times-News review by Logan A. White for “Teens & Twenties”: and Nov. 25th preview by Logan A. White:; Dec. 2nd Raleigh, NC Triangle Arts and Entertainment review by Susie Potter:; Nov. 29th Raleigh, NC News & Observer mini-preview by Roy C. Dicks:; Nov. 25th Durham, NC Indy Week mini-preview by Byron Woods:; and April 29th New York City preview by Robert W. McDowell: (Note: To read Triangle Arts and Entertainment’s online version of the Dec. 2nd Triangle Review preview by Robert W. McDowell, click

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


TOUR: and






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).


Robert W. McDowell has written articles for The News & Observer, The Raleigh Times, Spectator Magazine, CVNC, and Triangle Arts and Entertainment, all based in Raleigh. He edits and publishes two FREE weekly e-mail newsletters. Triangle Review provides comprehensive, in-depth coverage of local performing-arts events. (Start your FREE subscription by e-mailing and typing SUBSCRIBE TR in the Subject: line.) McDowell also maintains a FREE list of movie sneak previews. (To subscribe, e-mail and type SUBSCRIBE FFL FREE in the Subject: line.)


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