Olney Theatre Center The Sound of MusicBy Laura & Mike Clark • Nov 25th, 2011 • Category: Reviews
Olney Theatre Center
Olney Mainstage, Olney, MD
Through January 8th, 2012
2:45 with one intermission
Reviewed November 19th, 2011
The Sound of Music is a musical with music by Richard Rodgers and Lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II, book by Howard Lindsay and Russel Crouse. Set in Austria, The Sound of Music is the story of Maria von Trapp, a young, somewhat awkward, woman who is a postulate at an abbey. She is sent to be the governess to seven precocious children of a widowed sea captain. Maria and the captain, after a rough start, eventually fall in love and marry. They are forced to flee Austria when Captain von Trapp is “requested” to come out of retirement and begin fighting for the Nazis.
The Sound of Music is an engaging, heartfelt story to begin the winter season at the Olney Theatre Center with lots of enthusiasm and powerful voices making for a delightful evening.
Maria, who is forever getting caught singing in all the wrong places, was played well by Jessica Lauren Ball. Ball always seemed quite focused on all that was going on around her and seemed to enjoy every minute of it. The stern and austere Captain Von Trapp was played well by George Dvorsky. Ball and Dvorsky connected in their Lindler dance at the ball. Their eyes met and there appeared to be a timid connection between the two. Dvorsky’s voice was also solid. His song “Edelweiss” in Act Two was quite touching. Mother Abbess, played by Channez McQuay, was suffering from laryngitis, so her songs were sung at the performance we attended by Tracy Lynn Olivera.
All of the Von Trapp children seemed confident in their parts, but they were believably precocious as well as charming. Liesl (Maggie Donovan) had a good vocal range and a solid rapport with Ball. Little Gretl seemed to smile the entire evening. Be aware there are multiple actors playing the childen’s roles, so you may observe a different group dynamic from the children.
The comic relief of the evening was that of “Uncle Max” Detweiler played by Bobby Smith. Smith was extremely comfortable with his role of the sweet, lovable used car salesman. The captain’s fiancé was played by Jenna Sokolowski. She seemed confident in her part, but there seemed to be a lack of a spark between she and the captain. She had more of a connection with Max and their duet together was fun to experience.
Costume coordinators Jeanne Bland and Seth Gilbert designed costumes perfect for the occasion. The nuns’ habits were traditional. The traveling clothes worn by the Von Trapp family as they began their escape from Austria were bright and colorful. The set changes were smooth and seamless, although it was disconcerting to a Nazi rotating the set. Scenic Designer James Fouchard used the space on the Olney stage quite effectively.
A family friendly well done performance by the Olney Theatre Center’s cast, crew, and orchestra made for a delightful evening and you left singing about your favorite things.
Along with the rest of my generation, my introduction to The Sound of Music was through the blockbuster 1965 film. I remember being taken to the old Ontario Theater in D.C. where it was playing an exclusive, reserved-seat engagement. I loved it; a couple of weeks later, I subjected an aunt to a virtual frame-by-frame recounting – with me playing all the parts – that must have run as long as the movie itself. I also (full disclosure) played Rolf in a production when I was actually “seventeen going on eighteen.” And then several decades went by where I didn’t give The Sound of Music a thought. So it’s been fascinating to return to The Sound of Music – not through th film, but through the 1959 stage version with its script by Howard Lindsay and Russell Crouse.
Of course, the story is based on true events. Maria Kutschera really was a novice at the Nonnberg Abbey. Captain Von Trapp really was the widowed father of seven children. They really di marry and form the Trapp Family Singers. But biography is not drama, and Lindsay and Crouse took a number of liberties with the truth in order to fashion a version that upped the emotional impact, humor, and suspense. For intense, the real Maria and Captain Von Trapp married in 1927 – well before the dramatic of the German Anschluss. By all the children’s accounts, their father was a warm affectionate parent and not emotionally distant taskmaster we meet in Act One of the musical. In fact, the Captain lost much of his wealth in the depression, and the family singing group – which performed extensively in Austria – was formed to augment the household income. And the Von Trapps did leave Austria in 1938 – but on a train to Italy, not over the Alps in the dead of night. Lindsay and Crouse, along with Rogers and Hammerstein, knew their ultimate goal was to create an entertainment – and, hopefully, one with a message.
This I where it’s interesting to note one of the differences between the stage musical and th film. Both emphasize the importance of Maria opening herself up to her true calling. And both highlight the two leads’ strong identification with Austria: he sings about edelweiss, the flower that represents his homeland; she displays a deeply spiritual connection to the mountains where she grew up. But the stage version has another point to make, one about the importance of moral courage and not knuckling under to the prevailing tides of world events. in 1957 and 1958, when Lindsay and Crouse were writing the project, the US was in the throes of the House Un-American Activities Committee’s Communist Witch-hunt. Many theatrical luminaries – including Arthur Miller, Lillian Hellman, and Jerome Robbins – were hauled before congress and asked to name names. Some refused. some caved in and complied. As a result, people were blacklisted; careers were ruined. These events galvanized the theater community, and, not surprisingly, they influenced Lindsay and Crouse as they wrote for the stage show. The theme of the importance of personal integrity and moral strength remains timeless and relevant.
That aside, the more obvious attractions of The Sound of Music – the heart, the songs, the children – remain intact. It’s been a joy to bring this production to life. I hope you enjoy it.
– Mark Waldrop, Director
- Sister Berthe, Mistress of Novices: Donna Migliaccio
- Sister Sophia: Tracy Lynn Olivera
- Sister Rafaela: Melynda Burdette
- Sister Margaretta, Mistress of Postulants: Maria Egler
- The Mother Abbess: Channez McGuay
- Maria Rainer, Postulant at Nonnberg Abbey: Jessica Lauren Ball
- Captain Georg Von Trapp: George Dvorsky
- Franz, the Butler: Peter Boyer
- Frau Schmidt, the Housekeeper: Karen Paone
- Liesl: Maggie Donovan
- Friedrich: Brendan Debonis/Ari Goldbloom-Helzner
- Louisa: Caitlin Deerin/Carolyn Youstra
- Kurt: Austin Lemere/Jake Foster
- Marta: Julia Laje/Ella Gatlin
- Gretl: Svea Johnson/Heidi Kaplan
- Brigitta: Caroline Coleman/Sydney Maloney
- Rolf Gruber: Danny Yoerges
- Elsa Schraeder: Jenna Sokolowski
- Ursula: Maria Egler
- Max Detweiler: Bobby Smith
- Baron Elberfeld: DC Cathro
- Herr Zeller: Ethan Watermeier
- Baroness Elberfeld: Tracy McMullan
- A Postulant: Gracie Jones
- Admiral Von Schreiber: William Diggle
- Ensemble: DC Cathro, Maris Egler, David Franjenberger, Jr., Gracie Jones, Tracy McMullan, Channez McQuay, Donna Migliaccio, Tracy Lynn Olivera, Karen Paone, Jenna Sokolowski, Ethan Water Meier
- Dance Captain: Bobby Smith
Understudies and Swings
- Maria: Gracie Jones
- Georg Von Trapp: William Diggle
- Elsa Schraeder: Tracy McMullan
- Max Detweiler: Ethan Watermeier
- Heir Zeller/Baron Elberfeld/Admiral Von Schrieber: David Frankenberger, Jr.
- Male Swing: John Fritz
- Mother Abbess-Channez McQuay
- Rolf: John Fritz
- Franz: DC Cathro
- Sr Rafela/Liesl/Ursula/Postulant: Christine Lacey
- Sr Berthe/Sr Sophia/Sr Margaretta/Frau Schmidt/Baroness Elberfeld: Maria Egler
- Female Swing: Christine Lacey
- Conductor, Piano: Christopher Youstra
- Violin: Patrick Wnek
- Flute, Piccolo, Clarinet, Bassoon: Patrick Plunk
- Harp: Kristen Jepperson
- Trumpet, Piccolo, Trumpet, Fuglehorn: S. Craig Taylor
- Trombone: David Blackstone
- Percussion: Alex Aucoin
Designers and Crew
- Scenic Designer: James Fouchard
- Costume Coordinators: Jeanne Bland & Seth Gilbert
- Lighting Designer: Charlie Morrison
- Stage Manager: Josiane M. Lemieux
- Sound Designer: Jeffrey Dorfman
- Production Manager: Renee E. Yancey
- Technical Director: Eric Knauss
- Company Manager: MacKenzie Douglas
- Costume Shop Manager: Jeanne Bland
- Musical Director: Christopher Youstra
- Director/Choreographer: Mark Waldrop
- Artistic Director: Jim Petosa
- Managing Director: Amy Marshall
- Associate Artistic Director: Clay Hopper
Disclaimer: Olney Theatre Center provided two complimentary media tickets to ShowBizRadio for this review.
This article can be linked to as: http://washingtondc.showbizradio.com/goto/7393.
Laura & Mike Clark started ShowBizRadio in August 2005 because they love live theater. They each have both performed in and worked behind the scenes in DC area productions, as well as earned a Career Studies Certificate in Theater from Northern Virginia Community College. Mike & Laura are each members of the American Theatre Critics Association, and Mike is a member of the Online News Association.