The Sound of Music by Theatre Under The Stars
Hobby Center through Dec. 20
By MARLENE WEYAND
Call it comfort food for the soul. The TUTS production of “The Sound of Music” is a much-needed antidote to the doom and gloom surrounding this recession-riddled holiday season. From talented people to hope-filled music to vintage costumes and inspiring sets, SOM was a heart-rending reminder that good times may not last, but good people do.
Right up front, SOM enthusiasts will agree that actress-singer Kim Huber, cast as Maria, is a pleasing and palatable heir to the iconic Julie Andrews. Huber even looks like her with the cropped-off hair and natural beauty. And her voice—WOW! Maria has to carry the show, and carry it she did. She can also act and dance; and she’s so darn likeable. And I would put the von Trapp children players up against any SOM cast in the world. They are all students at Hobby Center for the Performing Arts.
George Dvorsky was a powerful Baron Von Trapp, with the voice and the commanding appearance; to Dvorsky’s credit, there was no effort to impersonate the charm and sex appeal of Christopher Plummer. He captured his own quite well. Jeff Rizzo’s orchestra performed perfectly some of the most beloved musical theatre music ever composed, simultaneously inspiring the audience and the performers.
Kenneth Foy’s sets were dreamy, from the opening scenes in the Alps, to the Nonnberg Abbey, to the Baron’s castle, to the songfest and the final mountain-escape. And the extension of the Abbey as the nuns sang “Maria” into the second tier Hobby theatre box seats added whimsy and eye-appeal. Foy’s Nazi-flag-draped hall where the songfest took place was an imposing reminder of freedoms fought for not so long ago.
Susan Shofner’s Mother Abbess was splendid, with a commanding voice and appearance, all executed with the tenderness you want in anyone you must call Mother. Doris Davis’ Elsa Schraeder exhibited great stage presence and narcissism, and she actually has a singing role: “No Way to Stop It”, along with Dvorsky and Ilich Guardiola who plays Max Detweiler. This song was not part of the movie. Guardiola has the potential to be an outstanding Max, however, his timing was hurried and several vital punch lines were lost. Where there should have been laughter, there were only smiles.
The von Trapp children’s performance of “The Lonely Goatherd” was delightfully choreographed using the children as the “puppets,” versus the marionettes used in the movie version. Each of the children brought their own special gifts to the roles. Jessica Ferguson wonderfully portrayed Liesl, a girl experiencing puppy love who was forced to become a woman when the Nazi’s take over Austria. Ryne Nardecchia charmed the audience as Friedrich, singing in a wonderful falsetto; Caroline Taylor as Louisa, Ian Tonroy as Kurt, Gabby Gillespie as Brigitta, Aiden Snasdell as Marta and Mandy Miller as Gretl exhibited great energy along with their singing and dancing talent.
TUTS “Sound of Music” is a performance in “due season” and any family wanting to enrich their holidays needs to add this to this year’s list.