Growing up, we’re all exposed to literature, music, & films that have become embedded in our culture so deeply it seems inherent that we’ve all had these experiences. The Sound of Music is one such work.
While I am by no means a musical novice, I have managed to go three decades without ever being exposed to it. When I entered Beverly’s North Shore Music Theatre on Wednesday for the debut of their 2013 season, I knew just three aspects of the treasured musical. There are Nazis. There are hills. They’re alive with music.
With this, I embarked on an evening in which I quickly discovered why The Sound of Music has become the world’s most beloved musical, enchanting & delighting new audiences nearly fifty years after its debut.
Rodgers and Hammerstein’s final collaboration tells the story of a novice nun who proves too high-spirited for the religious life, sent to serve as governess for the seven children of the widowed naval Captain Georg Von Trapp.
The cast is led by the remarkably talented Lisa O’Hare, who previously played Eliza Doolittle in the NSMT production of My Fair Lady. O’Hare was perfectly cast as her voice & movement on stage so perfectly captured the exuberant personality of Maria.
Veteran actor David Andrew MacDonald undeniably captured the dichotomous character, the Captain. His stern, commanding care for his children ultimately morphs into an exhibition of true love & tenderness for not only his kin, but also his new-found love in the young governess Maria.
MacDonald & O’Hare have the chops to lead the cast, and both ultimately proved why they continue to work on Broadway and across the country today.
The Von Trapp children were played by a half-dozen local students who hail from communities across the North of Boston region as well as San Diego native Deirdre Haren who plays the eldest of the Von Trapps. Returning to NSMT, Gloucester’s Giacomo Favazza delights as Kurt while Maggie Budzyna of Newburyport was charming as the slightly day-dreaming Lousia.
Three of the young actors made their NSMT debut on Wednesday, including Bryn Smith of Hamilton who impressed as the bookish Brigita. The eldest Von Trapp son was played by Kyle Mungenast of Reading while the two youngest ladies of the household were played by Winthrop’s Haven Pereira & Paige Catherine Martino of Lynnfield, who received a hollering from audience members during her final bow.
The show’s opening number in the Nonnberg Abbey featured the soothing, choral vocals of the Nuns ensemble, including Emmy award-winning producer, actor, and playwright Suzanne Ishee who stars as Mother Abbess. She also closes the first act with a remarkable rendition of the well-known track “Climb Ev’ry Mountain”.
Beverly’s native James Beaman’s impeccable timing & tone offered comic relief at just the right moments, playing the Captain’s good friend Max Detweiller. Max enters the children in the Salzburg Music Festival against their father’s wishes, however, this transgression ultimately saves the family along with some help from the Abbey’s nuns who present a thrilling, inspirational finale.
While I thought I didn’t know much about the Sound of Music, the reality was quite the contrary. Without ever having seen the film or another production, I was familiar with a lot more than I ever thought, including memorable songs like “My Favorite Things” or “Do-Re-Mi” or the title track.
One thing I definitely know after leaving the theatre? This is a production you don’t want to miss! Tickets are going fast, and NSMT has already added two additional shows to accommodate the growing demand for this great local theatre.
“The start of season 4! Who said we couldn’t make it?” an excited Bill Hanney, NSMT owner & producer, asked a packed audience at the stat of the show. “I know we have a good season ahead.”
Hanney and NSMT Artistic Director Arianna Knapp also introduced Kristina Von Trapp, granddaughter of Maria Von Trapp. As a special surprise, Kristina & NSMT gave away a trip to the Von Trapp Family Lodge in Stowe, Vermont to a lucky audience member.
“What a fantastic place this is, and I can tell this is going to be a wonderful production,” noted Kristina who also revealed a connection to the NoBo region. “I hold a special place in my heart for this area as I am a graduate of Governor’s Academy.”
The Sound of Music was directed and choreographed by James Brennan, who helmed last season’s record-breaking production of Annie. The production featured a book by Howard Lindsay and Russel Crouse and the score by Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II.