The Playhouse Square Huntington Bank featured performance of ‘The Sound of Music’ delivers


“Let’s start from the very beginning, that’s a very good place to start.” So sings Maria Rainer (Charlotte Maltby) as the seven children of Captain Georg von Trapp (Nicholas Rodriguez) fall in love with her along with the packed house in the Palace Theatre at Playhouse Square during the opening performance of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s The Sound of Music.

The 50s was the golden age of Broadway musicals with such works as My Fair Lady and Guys and Dolls having multi-year runs on the Great White Way. In 1958 the famed team of Rodgers and Hammerstein had come across the memoirs of Maria von Trapp who decided to turn her story into a musical. The result was an initially successful run of three years with 1,443 performances and five Tony Awards.

In Salzburg, Austria just prior to World War II, orphan Maria is a precocious postulant at Nonnberg Abby who wants nothing more than to serve the Lord. However, her inborn exuberance does not sit well with the sterner sisters of the cloistered group along with her habit of being “late for everything except meals.” In order to help her discover her true calling in life she is sent on a mission to be the governess of seven even more precocious children of the widowed Captain von Trapp.

Naval hero Captain von Trapp is still mourning the loss of his wife and spends little time at his lavish villa. When he does visit he runs the house like one of his destroyers having the children answer to a boatswains whistle and having afternoon marches on the estate. Maria is the latest in a long line of failed governess attempts. Soon her enthusiasm, love of music and penchant for adventure win the children over.

The Captain is also taken by her charm even though he is on the cusp of being betrothed to the haughty Baroness Elsa Schrader (Teri Hansen) who arrives for a visit with her friend Max Detweiler (Merwin Foard). Max is in the process of scouring all of Austria for singing talent for the famous Kaltzberg Festival.

Upon his return, the Captain finds that his carefully orchestrated program of discipline has been thrown out the window. Instead of marching, Maria has been taking the children out on field trips. In anger her fires Maria but when he hears the children sing he softens he begs her to stay.

At a lavish party in honor of Baroness Schrader’s arrival Maria is talked into dancing the Lándier by the oldest von Trapp boy, Kurt (James Bernard). When the lad fumbles on an intricate part of the dance, the Captain steps in and the couple is soon dancing around the room ending up face to face as romance fills them both. Against the Captain’s wishes the children perform a parting song “So Long, Farewell” for the guests as Max realizes that he has just discovered a new act for the festival.

Before going off to bed, daughter Brigitta (Dakota Riley Quackenbush) informs the young governess that she thinks that Maria is in love with the Captain and he with her. This flusters Maria so much that as the guests go to dinner she sneaks out with her baggage back to the Abby. The Mother Superior informs her that the Abby is not a place to hide out and sends her back to the von Trapp family.

Maria returns to the villa much to the delight of the family but trouble soon comes to the country as Germany peacefully invades and the citizens becomes divided between those who are for or against the Nazi regime. Captain von Trapp is offered a commission in the German navy even though he is set against what he considers to be invaders. His political views do not sit well with the Baroness and they part ways. The Captain and Maria are married at the Abby and upon returning from their honey moon receive the news that the Captain is to report for naval duty.

Captain von Trapp realizes that his only option is to escape with his family and the only way to do this is during the Kaltzberg Festival. Hasty plans are made as the family sings in public for what may very well be the last time.

This show is an absolute family friendly summer delight. The entire cast is perfectly suited for their roles. Charlotte Maltby as Maria Rainer is delightful, bringing a mischievous exuberance to the role along with an outstanding singing voice. Melody Betts as the Mother Abbess steals the show with her rendition of “Climb Every Mountain,” “My Favorite Things” and “Maria.” The audience was absolutely stunned by the power of her voice as it was the talk of intermission.

Nicholas Rodriguez as Captain Georg von Trapp does a fine turn as the stern father whose heart is softened by love and music as he lends his fine multi-range voice to the proceedings. Teri Hansen nails the role of Baroness Elsa Schrader with her feigned affection for the children and lofty air towards life in general. Merwin Foard as Max Detweiler takes a relatively minor role and expands it solely with stage personality and charm. He is everyone’s favorite uncle.

All of the children are totally engaging and lovable and include Paige Silvester as Liesl, Elliot Weaver as Friedrich, Stephanie Di Fiore as Louisa, James Bernard as Kurt, Dakota Riley Quackenbush as Brigitta, Taylor Coleman as Marta and cute Anika lore Hatch as Gretl.

This is a wholesome family friendly show that everyone will love.

There is something quite comforting about enjoying a delightful summertime performance of The Sound of Music in the beautiful and perfectly temperature controlled Palace Theatre at Playhouse Square. Bring the entire family for an evening of familiar music that if it is not already will soon become one “of your favorite things.” With this short run, you are advised to get your tickets quickly.

The Sound of Music will be at the Palace Theatre at Playhouse Square through July 23, 2017. Tickets may be purchased by phone at (216) 241-6000, online at www.playhousesquare.org or by stopping by the Playhouse Square Box Office located in the outer lobby of the State Theatre.

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Who is Mark Horning?

Over the course of my life I have worked a variety of jobs including newspapers, retail camera sales and photography. Eight years ago I embarked on yet another career as writer. This included articles concerning sports and cultural events in Cleveland, Ohio as well reviews of the many theatrical productions around town. These days are spent photographing professional dance groups, theater companies and various galas and festivals as well as attending various stage performances and posting reviews about them.