The Sound of Music opened last night at Durham Performing Arts Center, and runs until tomorrow. If you are looking for a good family show, filled with important messages, click here to buy your tickets now. You don’t want to miss this live version of the Tony®, Grammy® and Academy Award®-winning Best Score, including “My Favorite Things,” “Do-Re-Mi,” “Climb Ev’ry Mountain,” “Edelweiss,” and the title song.
The current NETworks Presentations tour of The Sound of Music is every bit as good as you remember; and this updated staging by director Jack O’Brien and choreographer Danny Mefford hits some very current notes about the choices people make in the face of tyranny.
The show opens with the free-spirited postulant Maria Rainer, played by the delightful Jill-Christine Wiley, singing in the mountains surrounded by the Swiss Alps. Scenic designer Douglas W. Schmidt’s set is beautifully painted with idealized colors that feel surreally nostalgic, like a long ago dream you never forgot. Natasha Katz’s lighting is magnificent, and the scenes in the abbey are especially beautiful.
Jill-Christine Wiley’s performance is nuanced; and her transformation from a “flibbertijibbet” nun-in-training, to a determined woman and stepmother to the seven von Trapp children is entirely believable. Mike McLean delivers a solid performance as the grieving widower and patriotic Captain Georg von Trapp. His rendition of “Edelweiss” was so good that it made the hairs stand up on my arms.
Lauren Kidwell, as the Mother Abbess, delivers the standout performance with “Climb Ev’ry Mountain.” Her singing is awe-inspiring; and her acting is pretty darn good, too. The Mother Abbess recognizes something in the young postulate Maria and lovingly sends her “out into the world,” so that she might be certain of her vocation before she takes her vows. You get the feeling that, perhaps, the Mother Abbess made her own decision too quickly and still has something of the free spirit within her as well.
The von Trapp children are much more than adorable; but oh my, are they ever adorable! Each one was spot-on with their performances, giving you a feel for each of their separate personalities. There are adult actors who can’t do that as well as these kids did, so it was great to see.
Keslie Ward is on her first national tour, playing Liesl, the 16-going-on-17-year-old-daughter of Captain von Trapp. Her innocence and budding romance with Rolf Gruber, the telegraph delivery boy/future Nazi played by Chad P. Campbell, is sweet and sad at the same time.
The smallest von Trapp child Gretl, played by young Sophia Massa, is so freakin’ cute and talented that she almost steals every scene she’s in. Massa inspired many “awws” and much love from the audience. I think that we will be seeing a lot more of Massa in the future.
Jake Mills, as “Uncle” Max Detweiler, added a lot of humor to the show. The character serves as the voice for the “Go-along-to get-along” argument that the Austrians should cooperate with their Nazi occupiers. Max has lived his life looking out for number one. He believes that while the Nazis are in power, if you can’t beat them, it is better to join them.
Melissa McKamie plays Elsa Schraeder, Captain von Trapp’s fiancée beautifully and makes her a bit more likeable than how she is generally played, which makes their breakup over political differences more relevant. Elsa, a female CEO in a time when that was not just uncommon (like it is today) but unheard of, wants her fiancé Georg to work with the Nazis to avoid trouble and protect both of their fortunes. She asks “Can’t you see things my way?” To which he replies, “No, not if you see things their way.” This ends their relationship, and she leaves to become another good person who does nothing.
The Captain does not stay single long (like, seriously, he gets engaged to Maria before his former fiancée can leave the property.)
A local talent show becomes their way for the von Trapp family to escape from the Nazis; and when the ceiling-to floor-Nazi banners are unfurled, it isn’t just Captain von Trapp who has trouble staying focused. It is jarring to see Nazi flags in real life, even if it is on stage. There was an audible gasp in the audience; and I was uncomfortable the entire time that they hung there oppressively, reminding us that this really happened in our world, and it wasn’t so long ago.
The little boy next to me whispered to his mom, “Why are they running away, mom?” I heard her whisper back, “Nazis are bad. They are really, really bad guys.”
SECOND OPINION: April 21st Raleigh, NC BroadwayWorld.com Raleigh review by Lauren Van Hemert: https://www.broadwayworld.com/raleigh/article/BWW-Review-THE-SOUND-OF-MUSIC-at-Durham-Performing-Arts-Center-20180421 and April 10th BWW interview with actor Mike McLean, conducted by Lauren Van Hemert: https://www.broadwayworld.com/raleigh/article/BWW-Interview-Mike-McLean-Breathes-New-Life-into-Captain-von-Trapp-and-Leads-THE-SOUND-OF-MUSIC-Back-to-Durham-Performing-Arts-Center-20180410; and April 18th Burlington, NC Times-News preview by Rachel Teseneer for “Teens & Twenties”: http://teensandtwenties.com/love-dreams-music-sound-of-music-comes-to-dpac/. (Note: To read Triangle Arts and Entertainment’s online version of the April 20th Triangle Review preview by Robert W. McDowell, click http://triangleartsandentertainment.org/2018/04/networks-presentations-tour-will-breathe-new-life-and-inject-new-energy-into-the-sound-of-music-on-april-20-22-at-dpac/.)
The Durham Performing Arts Center presents THE SOUND OF MUSIC at 2 and 8 p.m. April 21 and 1 and 6:30 p.m. April 22 at 123 Vivian St., Durham, North Carolina 27701, in the American Tobacco Historic District.
TICKETS: $30 and up, plus taxes and fees. Click here for $20-$30 rush tickets and other DPAC Special Offers.
Ticketmaster: 800-982-2787 or https://www.ticketmaster.com/venueartist/115558/209813.
GROUP RATES (15+ tickets): 919/281-0587, Groups@DPACnc.com, or http://www.dpacnc.com/events-tickets/group-services.
VIDEO PREVIEWS: http://thesoundofmusicontour.com/#media.
TOUR CAST & TOUR CREATIVE TEAM: http://thesoundofmusicontour.com/#castcrea.
The Story of the Trapp Family Singers (1949 memoir): https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Story_of_the_Trapp_Family_Singers (Wikipedia).
The Memoir: https://books.google.com/ (Google Books).
Baroness Maria Augusta von Trapp (née Maria Augusta Kutschera, Austrian musician and author, 1905-1987): https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maria_von_Trapp (Wikipedia).
The Sound of Music (1959 Broadway and 1961 West End musical): http://www.rnh.com/show/95/The-Sound-of-Music (Rodgers & Hammerstein Organization), https://www.ibdb.com/broadway-show/the-sound-of-music-8195 (Internet Broadway Database), and https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Sound_of_Music (Wikipedia).
Richard Rodgers (composer, 1902-79): http://www.rnh.com/bio/175/Rodgers-Richard (Rodgers & Hammerstein Organization bio), http://www.ibdb.com/broadway-cast-staff/richard-rodgers-8323 (Internet Broadway Database), http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0006256/ (Internet Movie Database), and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richard_Rodgers (Wikipedia).
Oscar Hammerstein II (lyricist, 1895-1960): http://www.rnh.com/bio/154/Hammerstein-II-Oscar (Rodgers & Hammerstein Organization bio), http://www.ibdb.com/broadway-cast-staff/oscar-hammerstein-ii-7965 (Internet Broadway Database), http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0358564/ (Internet Movie Database), and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oscar_Hammerstein_II (Wikipedia).
Howard Lindsay (playwright, 1889-1968): http://www.rnh.com/bio/78/Lindsay-Howard (Rodgers & Hammerstein Organization bio), http://www.ibdb.com/broadway-cast-staff/howard-lindsay-6373 (Internet Broadway Database), http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0512231/ (Internet Movie Database), and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Howard_Lindsay (Wikipedia).
Russel Crouse (playwright, 1893-1966): http://www.rnh.com/bio/164/Crouse-Russel (Rodgers & Hammerstein Organization bio), http://www.ibdb.com/broadway-cast-staff/russel-crouse-8531 (Internet Broadway Database), http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0189496/ (Internet Movie Database, and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Russel_Crouse (Wikipedia).
The Sound of Music (1965 film): http://www.tcm.com/tcmdb/title/90931/The-Sound-of-Music/ (Turner Classic Movies page), http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0059742/ (Internet Movie Database), https://www.facebook.com/TheSoundOfMusic (Facebook page), https://twitter.com/SoundofMusic (Twitter page), and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Sound_of_Music_%28film%29 (Wikipedia).
Movie vs. Reality: The Real Story of the von Trapp Family by Joan Gearin: http://www.archives.gov/publications/prologue/2005/winter/von-trapps.html (Winter 2005, Vol. 37, No. 4, of Prologue magazine, published by the U.S. National Archives and Records Administration).
Jack O’Brien (original director of the 2015-17 National Tour): http://thesoundofmusicontour.com/som-member/jack-obrien/ (tour bio), http://www.ibdb.com/Person/View/6551?> http://www.ibdb.com/Person/View/6551?>http://www.ibdb.com/Person/View/6551 (Internet Broadway Database), http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0639590/ (Internet Movie Database), and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jack_O%27Brien_(director) (Wikipedia).
Nicole Noel is a former U.S. Army journalist-turned-Technical Knowledge Manager, with a love for the arts. At age seven, she wrote her first story on the wall of her basement after being told the family might have to move: “There once was a girl named Nicole who had a dog named Rat and they lived in this house.” She liked the way that you could capture a moment in a sentence, and still does. These days Nicole lives with her daughter, and a dog named Buffy, in a house in Fuquay-Varina. Click here to read her reviews for Triangle Review and Triangle Arts and Entertainment.