“The Sound of Music” is an absolute perfect classic and one cannot help but expect to attend comparing the wonderful movie with Julie Andrews to any live performance. Jenny Rottmayer in the role of Maria Rainer is quite capable of enchanting the audience into forgetting to make that comparison from the very first scene. Her voice is crisp and pure and her interpretation of the young woman meant for motherhood, song and joy rather than reflection within the confines of a nunnery is genuine and convincing.
The music of Rodgers and Hammerstein tells the story from the book by Howard Lindsay & Russel Crouse suggested by the true story of “The Trapp Family Singers.” It is the story of a young postulant nearly ready to take her final vows at Nonnberg Abbey. She is sent as a governess to the home of Captain von Trapp, a strict widower with seven children to care for. As the story unfolds in the beautiful Austrian mountains, von Trapp must choose to bow to Nazi rule or face a bitter consequence. The joyful governess who brings the gift of music back into his home and to his children shows him the way.
The role of Captain Georg von Trapp is taken by Rob May. May’s interpretation opposite Rottmayer is ideal initially, although he lacks a defined transition as he develops a loving relationship with his children through Maria’s example. With a little tightening up in his timing, the character will develop more clearly, and his metamorphosis will become more apparent.
Paula Parkhurst as The Mother Abbess carries the maternal duties of a Mother Superior quite well and her voice is perfect for her rendition ‘Climb Ev’ry Mountain’. Excellent voices are also apparent in the roles of Elsa Shraeder by LaraBeth Bliss and Joel Swanson as Rolf Gruber. Bliss is very poised and assured and her voice reflects her character. John Cargal as Max Detweiler, friend and shameless promoter, is delightful. The von Trapp housekeeper, Frau Schmidt is well done by Susan James. Franz, the butler, is also executed exactly right by Paul Tomlin.
The remaining supporting cast of adults does a wonderful job, and the cast of children are outstanding. The Trapp children have voices magnificent enough to win the Salzburg Festival Music Award. Therefore, the children cast in the roles must be able to perform at that standard. This cast does. The role of Liesl, the eldest von Trapp daughter, is superbly done by Caitlin Rose. Her voice blends beautifully with all the other cast members and her voice is quite clear. The lovely duet between Rose and Swanson (Rolf) is excellent. Later the same ‘Sixteen Going on Seventeen’ reprise between Rose and Rottmayer is especially heart wrenching. Piper Bush as the youngest daughter, Gretl is especially charming, and Bush is an absolute trouper! Abigail Lowery as Louisa, Maya Dean as Brigitta, and Tori James as Marta perform their von Trapp daughter roles sincerely and with pure tones. The two boys of the family, Friedrich, played by Jonathan Young and Kurt, played by Brandon Sayers are very well done lending a nice effect to the children’s performance.
“The Sound of Music” is impeccably directed by Charles Tweed for Jewel Box Under the Stars. As with any outdoor performance sound can be a problem, particularly with Oklahoma breezes. Seating is best acoustically from about the eighth row and back. Do bring a stadium seat or cushion. Consider that June 10th is opening night, because every night through June 18 will have all the freshness and excitement of opening night!
“The Sound of Music” runs through June 18, 2011 at the Jewel Box Amphitheatre located at First Christian Church (corner of 36th & Walker) in Oklahoma City. Call the box office at 521-1786 weekday afternoons for reservations. Show times are Friday and Saturday evenings at 8:30 pm.