The Sound of Music
Ocean State Theatre Company’s joyous production of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s original stage version of "The Sound of Music," now at Theatre By The Sea, reminds audiences why this musical has stood the test of time and is well deserving of its status as an American classic.
"The Sound of Music" first premiered on Broadway in 1959, but the beloved and widely-known 1965 film adaptation starring Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer, a network television staple during Easter and Christmas, takes credit -- and deservedly so -- for introducing the unforgettable show tunes, "My Favorite Things," "Do-Re-Mi," "Edelweiss," and "So Long, Farewell," into our homes and hearts.
The stage version differs slightly from the film, and revisiting such a masterpiece can best be described as a Herculean effort, but Theatre By The Sea proves to be up for the challenge, because the production calls forth the excitement and heartwarming sentiment one experiences after having seen it for the first time -- and again every time thereafter.
Masterfully directed and choreographed by Amiee Turner, "The Sound of Music" tells the familiar story of Maria Rainer (Brianne Moore), a postulant nun who searches for and finds her destiny at the home of the widowed Captain von Trapp (Dan Debenport) and his seven children, Leisl (Samantha Dallas), Friedrich (Aaron O’Brien Mackisey and Peter Bucci), Louisa (Meghan Lydon and Grace Romanello), Kurt (Cole Mathewson and Connor J. Buonaccorsi), Brigitta (Abigail McMahon and Sarah Dube), Marta (Lily McMahon and Jacqueline Claire Depetro), and Gretl (Eva Senerchia and Sophie Blackman).
With Maria’s guidance, the unruly children learn to play and sing in harmony, which catches the attention of their mostly absent father, who returns home from a month-long vacation with a new mother for his children, the Baroness Schraeder (Lauren Gemelli). Also interested in, and determined to profit from the children’s newfound singing ability is family friend, Max Detweiler (Jean-Pierre Ferragamo).
Maria discovers she has feelings for the Captain and hastily returns to the abbey, only to be sent back by her superior, Mother Abbess (Patrice Tiedemann). Maria returns, much to the Captain’s joy (and Schraeder’s chagrin), and the two marry and live happily ever after. Well...not exactly. There’s some intermittent interference with the Nazis, but as we all know, the story’s ending is a happy one.
Moore’s delightful voice, magnetic smile, and childlike disposition make for the perfect Maria. She and her counterpart, Debenport, spar adorably and rhythmically as the soon-to-be Mr. and Mrs. von Trapp. Tiedemann brings the house down with her profound, breathtaking rendition of "Climb Ev’ry Mountain," and Dallas is joined by Colin Whitney as Rolf, the object of Leisl’s affection, in an especially pleasant delivery of "Sixteen Going on Seventeen."
The entire cast of children is rife with talent, and other noteworthy supporting players include Gemelli as Schraeder, the status-conscious socialite, and Andrea McCullough as clever maidservant, Frau Schmidt. I felt TBTS favorite Ferragamo was miscast as Uncle Max, but his portrayal was charming, nonetheless.
Kimberly V. Powers deserves special mention and praise for the production’s outstanding scenery, which seamlessly transports the audience from a serene mountainside to the gated entryway of the abbey and back to the pivotal stairwell of the von Trapp mansion.
"The Sound of Music" continues through July 14 at Ocean State Theatre Company’s Theatre By The Sea, 364 Cards Pond Road, Matunuck. For info or tickets, call 401-782-TKTS or visit Theatre By The Sea’s website.