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
Brian Clowdus Experiences at The Texas Amphitheater
Director – Brian Clowdus
Music Director—Rebecca Lowery
Choreography – Jenna McWilliams
Scenic /Projection Designer—Ian Loveall
Sound Designer – Bobby Johnston
Costume Designer – Clare Parker
The Mother Abbess– Jayme Alilaw
Maria Rainer, A Postulant at Nonnberg Abbey– Julie Trammel
Sister Berthe, Mistress of Novices–Emily Warwick
Sister Margaretta, Mistress of Postulants– Reagan Moss
Sister Sophia– Madison Calhoun
Captain Georg von Trapp–Blake Burgess
Franz, the Butler– Kevin Poole
Frau Schmidt, the housekeeper– Delynn Culp
Ensemble Nun—Abigail Korenek
Ensemble Nun—Nancy Lopez
Children of Captain von Trapp:
Rofl Gruber—Ryan Michael Friedman
Elsa Schraeder—Haley Barna
Max Detweiler—Chuck King
Herr Zeller—Joshua Lee
Baron Elberfeld—Will Singleton
Admiral von Schreiber—Cyrus Carrillo
Reviewed Performance: 3/8/2020
Reviewed by Genevieve Croft , Associate Critic for John Garcia's THE COLUMN
The Sound of Music is set in Salzberg, 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, the 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 act 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 long for a musical production, the time passes swiftly. The energy and enthusiasm of the cast in collaboration with the amazing visual elements make this production exactly what an experience at the theatre should be, spectacle, magic and an absence from reality.
Director Brian Clowdus brought together an ensemble cast which 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 was very impressive. Mr. Clowdus has brought the true idea of “immersive theatre” to audiences in Glen Rose, Texas-by having some of the Sisters interact with the audience prior to the show, singing and harmonizing some lovely music, while the Marketing team has teamed up to serve “tea with jam and bread,” and “sausage and sauerkraut” in the plaza prior to the show. This idea of immersive theater really brings the audience closer to the characters and the setting, while creating the world of the play right in front of audiences.
Scenic and Projections Designer Ian Loveall successfully transformed the grand proscenium stage of the outdoor ampitheater into multiple locations. In a story with so many locations, I was impressed to see the majority of the locations were conveyed with gorgeous projections-which was exactly what was needed to tell the story. I was impressed with Loveall’s attention to detail in each location and especially the usage of some lovely three-dimensional projection style backdrops that really allowed the audience to see how vast and grand the mountains in Austria really are. I also very much enjoyed seeing some similar techniques in the walls of the abbey-in particular the gorgeous stained-glass window of the Abbey. The projections and the pre-existing stone walls of the amphitheater allowed for a very open and adaptable set of locations that existed within the story. It was a very different take on some of the traditional elements that might be expected for a production so classic like “The Sound of Music,” but, I was very much blown away by the new approach to staging this classic production.
While the scenic designs allowed the audience to focus on the characters and the plot, transitions between scenes 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. It was a very powerful moment with 2 large Nazi Flags were projected at the Music Festival and used as the background 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 reports to Bremerhaven to assume command in the Army of the Third Reich. This moment gave me chills.
The home of Georg von Trapp was presented simply as a rolling door unit. At first appearance, it seemed as if it might not be enough for the lavish home as represented in the film adaptation. However, I definitely walked away satisfied and feeling less was more in this production. Mr. Clowdus and Mr. Loveall were able to take advantage of some of the amazing architectural amentities (used for The Promise at Glen Rose) of the Texas Ampitheater, by directly incorporating them into the world of the Von Trapp family, and the setting of Austria and Nonneberg Abbey.
While I admit, at first, I was skeptical and unsure of what to expect from an outdoor venue, The Texas Ampitheater in Glen Rose was a fantastic location for this production. Perhaps the most impressive use of the venue was the incorporation of the 50,000 gallon moat that stretched the front of the proscenium. I enjoyed seeing characters use the bridge to cross the waterway and seeing the Von Trapp’s board a boat at the end of the story to escape safely into Switzerland and away from the Nazis. This was definitely another way to incorporate the unique amenities of the Texas Ampitheater. Bravo!
Clare Parker designed costumes that were not only period appropriate but had a fine attention to detail. 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 1930’s. Everyone in the ensemble had extremely different costumes, 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 the 1930’s Europe.
Julie Trammel was incredibly believable in the role of Maria Rainer. Through facial expression, and body language, Trammel 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 was nearly constant, having appropriate interaction with the von Trapp children, and lovely on-stage relationships with Georg, Mother Abbess, and Liesl (played maturely by Regina Brown.) Trammel never faltered in her delivery, and all interactions with other cast members were believable and spot on. Ms. Trammel 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.
Captain Georg von Trapp was played by Blake Burgess. Burgess was very convincing through facial expressions and body language. In one specific scene, Burgess and Trammel 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, Burgess displayed some captivating moments with Ms.Trammel. I thought that the duality between Georg’s Naval Captain persona and his desire to be a more loving father was a nice contrast and provided depth to his character.
Jayme Alilaw in the role of the Mother Abbess was skillful in portraying the kind-hearted and maternal Mother Superior. Through facial expressions, and a dominant voice, Alilaw really brought down the house with “Climb E’vry 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.
Another standout was the ensemble of von Trapp children (Regina Brown, Stephen Newton, Jillian Kirkley, James Jones, McKenzie Karr, Norah Hammond, Finley Hammond). 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 into 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.
While all of the von Trapp children were phenomenal in the ensemble, young Miss Finley Hammond in the role of Gretl absolutely stole the show! She was super cute on stage, and impressed me with her level of talent, and commitment to this production. I learned that she was only four years old. She was most impressive!
This production of The Sound of Music is definitely worth seeing. The attention to detail evident in all aspects of this production makes for a satisfying experience. From the moment the overture begins, and the recognizable songs are previewed, you will be fascinated 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 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. The hills are alive (in Glen Rose, Texas that is) with the sound of music…
Brian Clowdus Experiences
The Texas Ampitheater at The Promise at Glen Rose
5000 Texas Drive
Glen Rose, Texas 76043
Plays through March 15.
Wednesday, March 11 at 7:30 pm
Thursday, March 12 at 7:30 pm
Friday, March 13 at 7:30 pm
Saturday, March 14 at 3:00 pm and 7:30 pm
Sunday, March 15 at 3:00 pm
Ticket prices range from $30.00-45.00, depending on day and seating. (Hills and Abbey sections).
Prices available for Seniors (55+) and Children 12 and under.
Other ticket prices for Adults.
For information and to purchase tickets, go to www.thepromiseglenrose.com
Parking begins an hour and a half prior to the show.
The plaza opens an hour to the show.
Seating will begin 30 minutes prior to the show.