THE SOUND OF MUSICMusic by Richard Rodgers, Lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II
Book by Howard Lindsay and Russel Crouse
Suggested by The Trapp Family Singers by Maria Augusta Trapp
Granbury Theatre Company
Director – Matt Beutner
Assistant Director—Colton Lively
Music Director—Ashley Green
Choreography –Jennie Jermaine
Scenic Designer—William Bryrum and Devon Kleine
Lighting Designer—Aaron Ingersoll
Sound Designer –Kyle Hoffman
Costume Designer – Devon Kleine
Maria Rainer—Kelsey Kilgore
Captain von Trapp—Jonah Hardt
Liesl von Trapp—Makenna Clark
Friederich von Trapp—William Power
Louisa von Trapp—Danielle Cisco
Kurt von Trapp—Clark Nuttall
Brigitta von Trapp—Ruth Power
Marta von Trapp—Berklee Heil
Gretl von Trapp—Blaire Stanfield
Max Detweiler—Micky Shearon
Elsa Schraeder—Reagan Moss
Frau Schmidt—Kathleen Powderly
Mother Abbess—Haley Twaddell
Sister Margaretta—Elizabeth Baker
Sister Berthe—Tracie Griffiths
Sister Sophia/Ursula/Frau Zeller—Sally Stanfield
Herr Zeller—Darren Clark
Baron Elberfeld—Micah Chesney
Barroness Elberfeld—Ellie Anderson
New Postulant—Brylea Hyde
Admiral von Schreiber—John David Dvorak
Nun Chorus: Ellie Anderson, Hannah Beth Baker, Edyn Esquivel, Brylea Hyde, Lily “Finch” McClendon, Reagan Moss, Trinity Seeley, Nancy Shue, Aubrey Ward
Reviewed Performance: 3/6/2022
Reviewed by Genevieve Croft , Associate Critic for John Garcia's THE COLUMN
A prototypical Rodgers and Hammerstein II collaboration, The Sound of Music seems to be the show that will never fade away-from high school and community theatre productions to the mediocre version of The Sound of Music Live! Featuring Carrie Underwood in 2013 on NBC….the catchy songs, a tender, romantic love story, and a story based on true events are still the perfect formula for a popular musical. Surprisingly, it was the last collaboration between legendary musical theatre duo Rodgers and Hammerstein. Hammerstein passed away in 1960, five years before the Academy Award-winning film was released. “Edelweiss” was the last piece of music that Rodgers and Hammerstein wrote together. A wonderful and legendary swansong for the duo.
The Sound of Music is set in Salzburg, Austria just before the start of World War II. The large ensemble cast includes a wealth of talent of all ages. The musical is a lengthy two and a half hours. However, the high energy and instantly recognizable songs allow the audience to pay no attention to the time, are quickly drawn into the story of young Maria Rainer, and the von Trapp family. Audiences are pulled into Maria’s world, where she is a rather unconventional Postulant at Nonnberg Abbey. In the story’s opening, Maria is on the nearby mountainside, regretting leaving the beautiful hills where she was brought up. After returning late, Maria (in a wonderful scene with the Mother Abbess) apologizes for her lateness, explaining she was raised on that mountain- and was singing without permission (something that is not allowed in the abbey). In response, Mother Abbess tells Maria that she should spend some time outside the abbey to decide whether or not she is ready for the monastic life. She will function as the governess to the seven children of a widower, Austro-Hungarian Navy submarine Captain Georg von Trapp.
Although two and a half hours seems lengthy for a musical production, the time passes swiftly. The energy and enthusiasm of the cast in collaboration with the impressive visual elements of sets and lighting make this production exactly what an experience at the theatre should be-spectacle, magic, and an absence from reality.
Director Matt Beutner has done it again. Beutner (a frequent director at Granbury Theatre Company) brought together an ensemble cast that worked well together and collaborated with a crew who clearly took their jobs seriously and knit together scenery, lighting, and costumes that enhanced the story being told by these familiar characters. His overall vision and concept were very impressive. Sometimes it can be so difficult to take on the task of directing such a beloved story-for fear that it will not be what audiences are expecting, or what they remember from previous performances that they have seen. Beutner has created a wonderful production, and it is evident that he led a production team and ensemble cast on his journey to tell the story of Maria and the von Trapp family. There is quite a bit of attention to detail in this production, and I have no doubt that Beutner has a fondness and appreciation for “The Sound of Music.”
Jennie Jermaine served as the production’s choreographer. Jermaine created some lovely moments on stage throughout the production. Notable moments of choreography include “Sixteen Going on Seventeen” with Liesl and Rolf (played wonderfully by Makenna Clark and Kendrick Booth), and the traditional Laendler couple’s dance of Bavaria and Austria. The moment Maria and Captain von Trapp begin the dance, audiences are aware that there may be a hint of romance between the two. The Laendler allowed the audience to see some wonderful chemistry between these two characters on stage. It is truly an impressive dance to watch.
Scenic Designers William Byrum and Devon Kleine successfully transformed the intimate proscenium stage into multiple locations. In a story with so many locations, each one was designed and conveyed with precision for detail. I was impressed with Byrum and Kleine’s diligence in each location and especially the usage of some lovely, detailed backdrops that really allowed the audience to see how vast and grand the mountains of Austria truly are. I also very much enjoyed seeing some similar techniques in the walls of the abbey-in particular, the Mother Abbess’ office. The circular stained-glass window and the large triangle topped doors made these walls of the Abbey seem exceptionally large, and open. For a production that has many locations, the scenic designers wonderfully created each location with great mindfulness to detail, while satisfying the needs of such a versatile musical. It is apparent to me that a lot of time and care were incorporated from both the scenic and lighting designers.
There was quite a bit of scenic changes to accommodate the multiple locations required within the story. I thought that these transitions were executed quite marvelously. The transitions were seamless. There was never a moment when I felt that I had been “cheated” by the lack of details or amount of detail in each location. From the double-level sets that would glide in and out with ease, to the delightful use of color and texture, the scenic designs, in itself could have easily been a phenomenon of excellent theatrical skill and exhibition. It was an immensely powerful moment when 2 large Nazi Flags were dropped from the ceiling and used as the backdrop of the Festival Concert. There was nothing more symbolic than seeing proud Austrian, Georg von Trapp sing “Edelweiss” (Austria’s national flower- used as an image of symbolism and loyalty to his country) before he bids farewell to his homeland and prepares to report to Bremerhaven to assume command in the Army of the Third Reich. This moment gave me chills. “Edelweiss” is one of my favorite musical theatre songs, and this performance by Jonah Hardt does not disappoint. More on Mr. Hardt’s performance later. Scene transitions did not slow the pace of the production and were excellently and efficiently staged.
The home of Georg von Trapp was as grand on stage as it was it the film. I was fascinated with the very end of the classic R&H musical, with the von Trapp children (led by Maria and Georg) as they traveled up the mountain, succeeding in escaping the Nazis after the Anschluss. I really felt that they were taking a long, and arduous journey to reach safety. As the family ascended into the hills of the mountains, my breath was taken away. The concentration to the specifications from the designers for this final scene was one of those moments that would not have been missed had it not been there but added an element of legitimacy to their artistry. Again, another moment that gave me goosebumps.
Lighting was designed by Aaron Ingersoll. Ingersoll is a newcomer to Granbury Theatre Company. He executed a fantastic job plotting lighting that was appropriate for each scene and mood. Lighting complimented the scenic design and gave the impression of the many different locations in Austria. The best “gem” from the lighting design, for me, was seeing the use of spotlights to highlight some of the more delicate and soft moments throughout the story. While the spotlights did provide a lovely highlight to the production’s softer moments, there were a few moments of dark areas on actors’ faces throughout the production. However, with a quick adjustment from the actors and actresses, they were fully illuminated once again. Chalk it up to too many ensemble members, and smaller stage space. Seeing the nun chorus become a part of the audience in the wedding scene was very impressive. Ingersoll mixed the use of dim light on the nun chorus and bright light on the wedding to create the illusion of the hall of a grand cathedral in Austria. Such a creative use of lighting from Ingersoll and staging from Beutner.
Devon Kleine’s costumes were not only period-appropriate but had a precise focus to stick to the right time period. The von Trapp children each had a unique costume. From the traditional German dirndls and lederhosen to the humorous “curtain” play-clothes, each wore something that was significantly different from one another. I enjoyed seeing the women of the cast in some fabulous fashion from the late 1930s. Everyone in the ensemble had an extremely different wardrobe and there was never a point in this production when I felt that costumes were similar to one another. Costume design was surely a huge undertaking in this production, with the massive number of characters in the story. Each ensemble player wore a unique costume (for each role) adding to their importance to the story. All this added authenticity to their roles. Costumes were visually appealing, while also giving an accurate depiction of their character’s personality and role in the story in 1930s Europe.
The production was plagued by some evident (albeit small) mic problems about mid-way through Act 1, but they were carefully corrected without any distractions. Unfortunately, any time a large number of mics are in the theatre (and spread throughout the house) mic problems seem inevitable. However, the issues were managed quickly allowing the production to go on with no further mic issues.
Kelsey Kilgore was incredibly believable in the role of Maria Rainer. Through facial expression and body language, Kilgore convincingly portrayed the optimistic governess, with a niche for singing, and her positive relationship and familial bond with the von Trapp children. Her role was very loveable, and her enthusiasm and honesty on stage were nearly constant, having appropriate interaction with the von Trapp children, and lovely on-stage relationships with Georg, Mother Abbess, and Liesl (played maturely by Makenna Clark). Kilgore never faltered in her delivery, and all interactions with other cast members were believable and spot on. Kilgore was wonderful in the role of Maria, and I believe, could certainly be held in the same category as others who have graced the stage in the role of Maria.
Jonah Hardt portrayed Captain Georg von Trapp. Hardt was very convincing through facial expression and vocal delivery. In one specific scene, Hardt and Kilgore were engaged in a very tender moment, while expressing their feelings for each other (“Something Good”). They had a lovely relationship on stage, and this was evident in their rapport with each other during each scene. Even in earlier scenes, when Georg was very stern and disciplinary, Hardt displayed some captivating moments with Kilgore. I thought that the duality between Georg’s Naval Captain persona and the desire to be a more loving father was a nice contrast and provided depth to the character. Such wonderful chemistry between Hardt and Kilgore on stage! Bravo! Hardt proves very versatile, having just come from playing the role of neurotic clean-freak, Felix Unger on stage in The Odd Couple at Granbury Theatre Company.
Haley Twaddell, in the role of Mother Abbess, was skillful in portraying the kind-hearted and maternal Mother Superior. Through facial expressions, and a dominant voice, Brown really brought down the house with “Climb Every Mountain” at the end of Act I. Her presence on stage was always strong, and she never faltered in her operatic and powerful vocal delivery. I was absolutely blown away by her performance. Twaddell’s performance has “Broadway” written all over it, and audiences are extremely lucky to see and hear such a powerhouse vocal talent in Granbury Theatre Company. “Climb Every Mountain” was previously one of my lesser favorites in this musical (I remember fast-forwarding through this song on the tape 2 of the VHS…you remember those somewhat antiquated black rectangles that had a movie on them-my age is showing here), however, I can say that Twaddell has definitely changed my mind. I left the theatre singing the chorus to this song.
Another standout was the ensemble of von Trapp children (Makenna Clark, William Power, Danielle Cisco, Clark Nuttall, Ruth Power, Berklee Heil, and Blaire Stanfield.) Each member of the von Trapp family was convincingly cute and provided the appropriate touch of humor with their adventures on stage. Their voices were like a chorus of angels, and it is evident that they devoted a lot of time and effort to their performance. With their delivery and facial expressions, the children did an excellent job. As each one matures and expands their resumes, they will certainly become well-rounded actors and actresses…and what a way to gain experience! “The Sound of Music” is surely one of the greatest musicals of the modern Broadway era. I have confidence in saying that the future of Granbury Theatre Company is bright with these budding young actors and actresses.
Providing the dose of essential humor in the production was Micky Shearon in the role of Max Detweiler. Shearon has some very humorous moments on stage with Hardt, and with the von Trapp children while keeping the story serious during the important historical moments in the plot. Shearon has his turn to sing as well (even though Detweiler’s two songs were unexplainably cut from the film-I suspect for time). Shearon delivers vocally and provides the touch of comedy in such a serious story.
This production of The Sound of Music is definitely worth seeing. From the moment the curtain rises and the mountains of Austria are revealed, you will be captured and compelled to sing along. Not only is it an excellent history lesson for audiences of all ages, but also, it is an excellent way to introduce Maria’s story to first-time theatergoers. Whether you have never seen the show before, or you are a film devotee, “The Sound of Music” will leave you with a spectacular theatrical experience. This production of “The Sound of Music” is truly a masterpiece. Granbury Theatre Company is alive with the “sound of music,” and thus, the legacy of Rodgers and Hammerstein lives on… continuing to delight audiences of all ages.
133 E. Pearl Street. Granbury, Texas 76049
Plays through March 27.
Fridays at 7:30 pm, Saturdays at 2:00 pm and 7:30 pm. Sundays at 2:00 pm
Floor $35 - Balcony $30
Discounts are available for seniors (aged 65+), active duty military/veterans, and children/students.
Group discounts are available through Box Office at (817) 579-0952.
To purchase tickets, visit http://www.granburytheatrecompany.org