Regional Roundup

BWW Review: THE SOUND OF MUSIC at Cadillac Palace Theatre

BWW Review: THE SOUND OF MUSIC at Cadillac Palace Theatre

From the opening strains of the nuns' harmonies in Nonnberg Abbey, the national touring production of THE SOUND OF MUSIC delivers the beloved story of family, romance, and courage with a charming style all its own. Fans of the iconic 1965 film will find new moments to appreciate in the Rodgers and Hammerstein score, with book by Howard Lindsay and Russel Crouse, which preceded the film as a hit Broadway show.

In the early scenes set in the abbey, Lauren Kidwell gives a standout performance as the Mother Abbess, beginning with her compassionate counseling of the impulsive young Postulant Maria Rainer (Jill-Christine Wiley). In the stage version, "My Favorite Things" is a duet between Maria and the Mother Abbess - rather than the von Trapp children - and the two share a sweet scene as the Mother Abbess recalls this song from her childhood. Later, Kidwell breathes new life into a classic as she closes both Acts I and II with powerhouse renditions of "Climb Every Mountain."

When Maria leaves the abbey to become a governess, the seven von Trapp children - from the nearly-grown Liesl (Keslie Ward) to the pint-sized Gretl (Sophia Massa) - steal every scene in which they appear with their adorable antics, which are underscored by a vulnerable need for parental affection. Mike McLean makes a dashing romantic lead as their widowed father, Captain Georg von Trapp, in a warmer, less aloof portrayal than Christopher Plummer's in the film. His friend Max Detweiler (Jake Mills) and love interest Elsa Schraeder (Melissa McKamie) are better developed in the stage version, with several songs that were cut from the film. While Captain von Trapp's shift of affections from Elsa to Maria seems somewhat rushed and underdeveloped due to the book, Maria's journey of falling in love with the entire family feels authentic because of Jill-Christine Wiley's heart-warming chemistry with the children.

In addition to the themes of love and family, this production captures the darker tone of Act II, when Austria is annexed to Nazi Germany. The sense of danger is palpable as armed soldiers enter the von Trapp household and Captain von Trapp struggles to decide whether defying the Nazi regime is worth risking his family's safety. After he and Maria decide to flee Austria with the children, their family performance at the local music festival hits a strong emotional chord. In the stage version, the ballad "Edelweiss" appears for the first and only time in this penultimate scene, in which Captain von Trapp sings the moving tribute to his homeland in front of a formidable backdrop of swastika flags.

This tale of hope and love in the face of adversity offers something for audience members of all ages to enjoy, whether they are familiar with the von Trapp family's story or are discovering it for the first time.

THE SOUND OF MUSIC runs through April 15 at the Cadillac Palace Theatre, 151 W. Randolph Street, Chicago, IL 60601. Tickets are available at broadwayinchicago.com or 800-775-2000. Future touring dates and locations are available at thesoundofmusicontour.com.

Photo credit: Matthew Murphy

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From This Author Emily McClanathan

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