The Sound Of Music Hits A High Note at WBT

Published: Wednesday, June 26, 2013 7:00 am By: Michall Jeffers Source: Woman Around Town

guitar kidsHow do you make a show everyone has seen at the movies or on stage seem new and interesting? In the case of Westchester Broadway Theatre’s The Sound Of Music, you bring in a director with insight, a lot of talent, and actors who have carefully prepared for their roles.

Of course, the story revolves around Maria (Aubrey Sinn), a young postulant who is living in the abbey with nuns like the Mistress of Postulants, Sister Margaretta ( Allyson Kaye Daniel), who finds Maria wildly amusing, and Sister Berthe, Mistress of Novices (Leisa Mather), who knows that Maria is ill suited to convent life. The decision of whether Maria should stay or go rests with the thoughtful Mother Abbess (Karen Murphy). She decides to send Maria to be the governess in the household of Captain Georg von Trapp (Matthew Shepard).

Maria soon grows to love the Von Trapp brood. Liesl (Molly Emerson) is the oldest. She informs Maria that she doesn’t need a governess, but doesn’t mention that she’s stuck on Rolf (Cameron Bartell), the boy who delivers telegrams. The rest of the children (there are two casts of kids) quickly take to Maria, and it’s not long before the Captain does, too. This is good news for housekeeper Frau Schmidt (Melinda Tanner), who remembers the happy times before Georg’s wife died. Not so thrilled is the woman everyone assumes Georg will marry, the self-absorbed Elsa Schraeder (Michelle Dawson), who arrives with the social climbing Max Detweiler (Jamison Stern). When  Max hears the children sing, he knows they must be included in the festival he’s planning -
The personal story of these characters is enfolded into the larger backdrop of Austrians who are heatedly at opposite poles about whether Austria should embrace or resist the oncoming Anschluss. The debate about whether or not the union with Germany is good for Austria extends not only to the rich and powerful, but also to the man in the street, like Georg’s butler and faithful servant, Franz (Bruce Rebold). The Von Trapps are in the minority of those who oppose Hitler, and as Georg and Maria’s love story plays out, time grows short for the family to safely remain in their home; soon, they must flee the country.

I had the opportunity to question the director and the actors about how they approached the play, and how they combined efforts to make it a success; I was pleased and surprised at the thoughtful, intelligent replies I received. I asked: How do you make such an iconic show/role fresh while staying true to the original concept? What’s been the most challenging aspect? What’s happened during rehearsals? And does the old adage