The Empire Theatre Comes Alive with “The Sound of Music”
Barksdale/Theatre IV Production is Top Rate
Loyal fans of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “The Sound of Music” are going to be thrilled with Barksdale Theatre and Theatre IV’s production of the classic musical.
The action takes place just before World War II when Austria was being taken over by the German regime. The story, loosely based on the real life von Trapp family singers, centers around Maria, who is studying to become a nun. The Mother Abbess decides that Maria needs to figure out what she really wants out of life and sends her to serve as a governess to the von Trapp family. The seven children in the family grow to love Maria, as does their father, Captain von Trapp. When it comes time for the family to leave their beloved Austria, they use their musical talents to help them escape.
Director Chase Kniffen has taken this beloved musical and given it new energy and charm. The show literally leaps off the stage, giving it a realism that draws you into the action. Kniffen has done a magnificent job of casting the play, a difficult task given the number of children that auditioned for the chance to be on stage. Although the show has a large cast, the stage never seems overcrowded or chaotic.
The realistic scenic design by Brian Barker which reflects not only the tradition and spiritual essence of the nunnery, but also the richness of the von Trapp household, coupled with Lynne Hartman’s artistic lighting designs, adds to the realism and seamless ease of scene changes on the stage.
The talented cast in this production delivers a show that lives up to its stage and film predecessors. The singing talent is quite amazing. There isn’t a weak voice in the cast.
Jody Ashworth, who plays Captain von Trapp, delivers deep, rich vocals that resound throughout the theatre. Kara Harman is spot on in the role of The Mother Abbess. Her rendition of “Climb Every Mountain” will touch your soul.
Michael Hawke has delightful fun with his role as family friend, Max, as does Susan Sanford as Elsa, a woman who almost becomes the matron of the von Trapp family.
The young actors that play the von Trapp children are as cute as they are talented. The cuteness factor hits it height with Ellie Wilson as the young Gretl and Cooper Timberline as Kurt. All the young actors deliver solid vocals, especially Ali Thibodeau who plays 16-year-old Liesl. Her duet with love interest Matt Polson has a childlike lightness that is sure to bring a smile to your face.
With a cast as talented as this, it’s difficult for someone to steal the show but Stacey Cabaj comes very close to doing that. She is the epitome of Maria – gentle, fun-loving, determined and she can sing like an angel. The enthusiasm and honesty she brings to the role is as real as it gets. What a joy to watch.
“The Sound of Music” is the perfect family entertainment. It will make diehard fans of the musical stand up and cheer. The show runs through July 4 at the historic Empire Theatre.
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