The Sound of Music
Music by Richard Rodgers
Lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II
Book by Howard Lindsay and Russell Crouse
Directed by Claud Smith III
Starring Meggin Stailey, Tim Rerucha
The Garden Theatre, Winter Garden FL
If you’re going for a massive, over the top production in a community theatre, this is the stretch project and The Garden Theatre hits almost all the key targets. You’ve sung the story in the shower many times – Maria Rainer (Stailey) debates taking monastic orders, but has a wild streak that will only lead to Heresy and Ecumenicalism. In order to test here resolve, Mother Abbess (Sue Clohan) sends her off to tend the Von Trapp children for a few months. Captain Georg von Trapp (Rerucha) picked up a medal for bravery in the Adriatic, and managers his octave of children the same way he runs a ship – he pipes them awake, pipes them to sleep, and probably pipes them when they need to use the head. Maria adds an element of compassion and humor to this horrid life, teaching the children about music and dance and the general joys of being a kid and not a cadet. It’s a musical, and even with Nazis hanging around there’s love in the air as well as a solid half dozen major radio hits. Can you name them all? Here’s a cheat:”My Favorite Things,” ” Do-Re-Mi”, “Sixteen Going On Seventeen”, “Climb Every Mountain,” “The Sound of Music” and” Edelweiss.” Even the songs that didn’t chart are better than the hits in most musicals, ‘The Lonely Goatherd” has a beirstube charm and might have done better were it not written to serve the plot instead of serving the Billboard Hot 100.
On the production side, this show offered solid if not show stopping music and a killer set that looked like it might kill a few actors. Stailey sang with a solid grace, and even if she never missed a note she didn’t get my blood boiling. Rerucha sang with more heart, and his alternate marriage partner Elsa Schraeder (Cynthia Kime) and he pulled a beautiful “How Can Love Survive?” Another noteworthy strength were the von Trapp children. So often youngsters on stage get a standing ovation from grandpa and grandma and leave me wincing, but these kids were not only cute but had their lines, cues and motion down from Liesl (Katie Vermillion) singing “Do” all the way down to Gretl (Katherine Bedford) singing “La”. True, the boys smirked more than they should have, but if you have to put kids on stage, you could do far worse than these. As to sets, we walked into a space filled with stained glass illumination and during the show a full and active use of the Gardens Fly loft dropped multiple flats and set pieces that took us from a dank abbey to an elegant mansion to a mountain village quickly and expertly. True, there were times when it appeared that the walls might collapse, the chandelier appeared out of place in the mountain groves, and trees tended to move on their own like Ents in Lord of the Rings (volume 2) , but still it was as impressive and ambitious piece of stage craft as you’ll see outside of an E ticket ride at The Mouse. I applauded The Garden for its ambition and execution, and even if I’ve picked a few nits here and there; they should take a shot at Spiderman when the rights become available.
For more information on The Garden Theatre, please visit www.gardentheatre.org