Sound of Music

At Ivoryton Playhouse

By: - Jul 15, 2023

How do begin a review of Sound of Music without reverting to something trite like “The hills are alive….”?

Ivoryton may not have hills, but the theater is genuinely ringing with glorious singing in its production of The Sound of Music, which runs through Sunday, July 30.

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This is a big show for a smaller theater to do, but Artistic Director Jacqueline Hubbard has pulled it off.

From the 15-member cast plus the seven children to the nine-member orchestra, this is not a “cut down” version of the musical. That also means it is a long show, running about two hours and 45 minutes with intermission.

Is anyone not familiar with the story? Maria, a novitiate at the nearby Abby, is sent to be governess to widower Capt. von Trapp’s seven children and to prepare them for a new mother when the captain remarries. It is Austria in 1938, and the Nazi upcoming takeover of the country has everyone on edge. The children are a handful, but Maria wins them over and reintroduces them to singing, a pastime that ceased when their mother died. In the process, she and the captain fall in love. When he is ordered to report to the German naval base to take command of a ship, the family escapes. In the US, they became known as the Von Trapp Family Singers.

The production uses elements from the original script as well as elements from the movie and subsequent Broadway revivals. This means that the two songs Richard Rodgers wrote for the film – “I Have Confidence in Me” and “Something Good” are included and the original “An Ordinary Couple” is omitted.  “How Can Love Survive?” from the original cast is gone, but the show keeps “There’s No Way to Stop It.” That song, sung by the wealthy Baroness who plans to marry the captain and a concert producer friend, preaches the philosophy of “if you can’t stop it, just accept it.”

First, let’s mention the fine scenic design by Cully Long. It features two arches on each side that can be the cathedral or the home, and the Alps are in the background. It is flexible enough to accommodate the multiple scenes. Kate Bunce created costumes that set the 1930s period; the wedding gown is magnificent. Add to that, the fine lighting design by Marcus Abbott and the small stage transforms into Austria.

Francesca Webster choreographed the show; while the show has few “dance” numbers, she did a good job with the dance between the eldest daughter (Liesl) and her first boyfriend (Rolf), and the folk dance in the second act.

Adrianne Hick gives us a beautifully sung and acted Maria. She truly seems “in the moment” at all times, portraying the confusion and later certainty and determination of the character. Her clear soprano does justice to all the songs – from “The Sound of Music” to “Do Re Mi.”  Her duets with Capt. von Trap (David Pittsinger) blend their voices beautifully.

Pittsinger is a fine von Trap moving from the stern, closed-off man to someone who slowly opens his heart to his children and to love. His operatic voice soars in “Something Good” and later in “Edelweiss.” While the role has few solo numbers, Hubbard and music director Mark Ceppetelli have brought him into other numbers.

Patricia Schuman is just right as the Mother Abbess – stern but loving. Her operatic voice is perfect for “Climb Every Mountain” and even “The Sound  of Music.”

This production has two casts of children; on opening night, I saw what is called the “orange cast.” I can’t imagine the other children being any better. They were charming without being cloying, individuals that tugged at your heart. Bryn Martin was particularly good as Lisel, the oldest girl, but you can’t keep your eyes off Emma Needleman who plays the youngest, Gretl. Each (Kaiya Colquhoun as Louisa, Gavin Holwitt as Kurt, Alisdair McLaren as Friedrich, Tess Santarsiero as Birgitta and Viviana Velasquez as Marta) was delightful and very talented.

Michael Connelly was fine as the cynical concert promoter Max Detweiler.

This is a terrific show for older children. Young children may find the length a challenge.

Congratulations to Ivoryton Playhouse for an excellent production.

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This content is courtesy of Shore Publishing and