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Review

The Sound of Music
by Young Artists Ensemble
 
 

THE SHOW:  

The last Rodgers and Hammerstein collaboration became their biggest with the blockbuster film led by Julie Andrews. It’s inspired by the von Trapp family that formed the Trapp Family Singers who fled Austria as Nazi Germany took over, and the musical score is certainly among the most complete featuring such hits as My Favorite Things, Sixteen Going on Seventeen, Climb Every Mountain, Edelweiss, and the title tune. While the terror of the approaching Nazis threatens in the background, the story centers around Maria whose love of singing sometimes gets her in trouble with the abbey where she is a postulant, and will also get her into a different kind of trouble when she gets assigned to be the governess of the soon-to-be-singing seven siblings of the widowed Captain von Trapp.  

THE PRODUCTION:  

Young Artists Ensemble presents this show nestled in the hills of Thousand Oaks at the Hillcrest Center for the Arts. Director Michael Fischer clearly pays attention to every detail of the show that includes a number of nice creative touches. A relatively long musical for youth theatre, the show is often done with cut songs. Those songs are thankfully included in this one with no worry about time, the scenes and interactions never rushed, all unfolding naturally among an impressive cast.  

Shannon McGraw is our Maria, a marvelous actress who has an easy comedy and instincts with the children, and who feels every lyric whether she’s building up her confidence in I Have Confidence (witnessed by a few townsfolk who look on with quizzical and sympathetic smiles), taking joy in teaching the children to sing, or falling for the captain. Ryan Bates nails his characterization of said captain, rigid but still human, quick to anger but controlled, and finally his heart and demeanor thawing thanks to Maria and his children. Their argument over the children upon his surprise return home is real and intense.  

Alyssa Kriss ends the first act on a powerful note as the Mother Abbess singing Climb Ev’ry Mountain. Gabi Ditto is fantastic as the baroness engaged to the captain, both humorous and dramatic when the time comes. And she makes a great comedy team with moocher Max (Alexander Jackels) for their droll How Can Love Survive? duet and trio of No Way to Stop It with the captain. Sarah Hathaway also has a humorous cameo as Frau Schmidt. The nuns do a nice job with their chorus, and combine for a memorable discussion of how to solve a problem like Maria including the unimpressed Sister Berthe (Anthea Stobie) and the sweet and supportive Sister Margaretta (Lauren T. Alexander with a gorgeous voice). The ensemble is into it whether in the forefront or in the background and deliver an excellent dinner party scene.  

And then there is a pretty amazing collection of seven siblings. Lyrissa Leininger is the eldest Liesl, with much of Do-Re-Mi slowly getting the reluctant Liesl to fully participate (great choreography and performances), and she charms in Sixteen Going on Seventeen with Rolf (Aaron Sallan). Jessica Wallace is a precocious, fun, and sassy Brigitta. Max Meyers is Friedrich desperate for his father’s approval, Marisssa Michelle Margolis sparkles as an adorable Marta, Allison Martinez is an amusing instigator as Louisa but also poignantly sensitive to the scolding by her father – as is Micah Meyers as young Kurt who always speaks volumes with often subtle expressions. While little Gretl (Lilly Thompson) lights up the stage with her unstoppable, bright and happy charisma. Combined, they work together like they’ve grown up together and add great heart to The Sound of Music.

Performed November 7 - 23, 2014

Photos by Paul Cranmer

Rob Hopper
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Executive Director
National Youth Arts

~ Cast ~ 

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Mother Abbess: Alyssa Kriss
Sister Margaretta:
Lauren T. Alexander 
Sister Sophia: Samantha Speer
Sister Bertha: Anthea Stobie
Nun: Taylor Fanto
Nun: Megan Morales
Nun: Elaine Panico
Nun: Hannah Ramirez
Maria: Shannon McGraw
Captain Von Trapp: Ryan Bates
Franz: Christian Frye
Frau Schmidt: Sarah Hathaway
Gretl: Lilly Thompson
Marta: Marissa Michelle Margolis
Kurt: Micah Meyers
Louisa: Allison Martinez
Friedrich: Max Meyers
Liesl: Lyrissa Leininger
Brigitta: Jessica Wallace
Rolf: Aaron Sallan
Elsa: Gabi Ditto
Max: Alex Jackels
Elberfeld: Brock Bailey 
Herr Zeller: Caleb Bailey 
Admiral Von Schreiber: Jeremy Graham Orriss 

Director: Michael Fischer
Asst. Director/Stage Manager: Nick Noble
Music Director/Conductor: Susan T. Calkins
Costume Designer: Cindy Peltola
Set Designer: Jeff Calnitz
Lighting Designer: Ian Kelley
Sound Designer: Scott Buchanan, Ian Kelley, Mark Andrew Reyes



   

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