Skip to main content Skip to footer site map
Review: THE SOUND OF MUSIC Bursts with Spirit & Heart at A.D. Players

Review: THE SOUND OF MUSIC Bursts with Spirit & Heart at A.D. Players

Running now at A.D. Players through August 14th!

Review: THE SOUND OF MUSIC Bursts with Spirit & Heart at A.D. Players
A.D. Players' ​​​​​​THE SOUND OF MUSIC
Photography: Jeff McMorrough

Oh, where to begin? This is the kind of show that reminds you that-above all-theatre is play. And there's simply too much genuine playfulness and joy happening over at A.D. Players for you to miss out on it.

Whether you're a diehard fan of THE SOUND OF MUSIC fan or it's been a while since you indulged in it, I encourage you to make this show a priority during your summer trips to the theatre.


After a 2-year delay due to the pandemic, A.D. Players has triumphantly opened THE SOUND OF MUSIC. Not only is it a nostalgic favorite, but its heartwrenching relevance makes it that much more of a must-see. Director Emily Tello Speck writes in the director's note, "The story of Maria and the von Trapp family is one of faith, love, passion, and strength...how timely for us, having endured a harrowing few years, to be inspired by the healing power of music," and this production fulfills every word.

If comfort food was a musical, this would be it. THE SOUND OF MUSIC is packed with all your favorite sentimental melodies and so many Rodgers & Hammerstein classics. There's something about a live orchestra that can't be beaten, and this group of 13 musicians is led with excellence by Stephen W. Jones.

Review: THE SOUND OF MUSIC Bursts with Spirit & Heart at A.D. Players
Claire Marie Spencer (Maria) and
Brad Goertz (Captain von Trapp)
Photography: Jeff McMorrough

Clarie Marie Spencer fits the role of Maria like a well-worn glove. Stepping into Julie Andrews' iconic role is no easy feat, but Spencer contains every ounce of youthful spirit, spunk, and warmth you're hoping for. You know within her first few notes that the character is safe in her hands. She leads the show with the utmost grace and cheer.

And then...there are the children. Where to begin with the children?! I found myself tearing up at the most unexpected moments at the sight of these young artists romping and singing onstage. These young performers really are the heart of this production, and they excel onstage.

The von Trapp family, led by Captain von Trapp (Brad Goertz), is comprised of Liesl (Taylor Aronson), Friedrich (Kai Desel), Marta (Anna Austin), Kurt (Everett Baumgarten), Louisa (Mackenzie West), Brigitta (Macie Speer), and Gretl (Norah Nunes).

(Do me a favor: When you go see the show, be sure to watch little Norah as Gretl. She follows Spencer around onstage as if she hung the moon, and it's precious. To a 7-year-old, Spencer must seem like a real-life Maria!)

Review: THE SOUND OF MUSIC Bursts with Spirit & Heart at A.D. Players
Adam Kral (Rolf) and Taylor Aronson (Liesl)
Photography: Jeff McMorrough

Emily Tello Speck's direction and choreography are especially showcased in the group numbers with the children, such as "Do-Re-Mi", "The Lonely Goatherd" and "So Long, Farewell". Seriously, these numbers alone are worth the trip to the theatre.

"Sixteen Going on Seventeen" is a huge highlight for Taylor Aronson as Liesl and Adam Kral as Rolf. Speck's choreography shined here as the pair performed a beautiful ballet number; it was easily one of my favorite numbers in the show.

This cast of 25 boasts several Houston favorites as well as some newcomers for me. Doug Atkins earns several laughs as the fickle and pretentious Max Detweiler, Julia Laskowski wows in "Climb Ev'ry Mountain" as Mother Abbess, and Joel Sandel brings all the dry wit and sass as Franz.

This show is no small feat for a designer. The star of Jon Young's set is the massive, textured mountain range spanning the entire stage. Hudson Davis' lighting design seemed to dance off of its surface, making for a stunning backdrop. Leah Smith's costuming is spot-on (Note to self: find a dress like Maria's blue one in Act 2. Simply beautiful!). Every note is crystal clear with Andrew Harper's sound design, which can't be stressed enough as an essential to a good night at the theatre.

If this show faces any challenges, it's the sheer immensity of the stage. The George Theatre is a beautiful (albeit, massive) space, and at times the stage seems to swallow the scenes happening on it. It'd be difficult to create a set that satisfies all the locations of the show and fills the stage while still being movable. Young navigates this the best he can, with several gorgeous set pieces that move on and offstage.

There are a few moments that take away from the seamlessness of the show, as crew members facilitate scene changes or the curtain falls so the location can be switched. It's no dealbreaker for me, but it does take you out of the moment at times. Even so, whatever this production lacks in polish it makes up for in heart.

This story demonstrates grit, spirit, resilience, and joy in the face of immense challenges--something that hits close to home in many ways for our world. This would be a fantastic summer outing for the whole family (though note that it is on the longer side of 2 ½ hours, plus intermission). A.D. Players has done it again with this production, and this reviewer hopes they continue to venture into the musical theatre space!

THE SOUND OF MUSIC runs at A.D. Players through August 14th. Performances run Wednesday through Sunday until August 14th. For more information on how to purchase tickets or support A.D. Players, go to their website adplayers.org.




From This Author - Audrey Morabito

Audrey Morabito has been in the audience of the Houston theatre scene for over sixteen years, thanks to her parents' love of the arts. Once a starstruck five year old, enthralled... (read more about this author)


Review: THE SOUND OF MUSIC Bursts with Spirit & Heart at A.D. PlayersReview: THE SOUND OF MUSIC Bursts with Spirit & Heart at A.D. Players
July 10, 2022

Oh, where to begin? This is the kind of show that reminds you that theatre is PLAY. And there’s simply too much genuine playfulness and joy happening over at A.D. Players for you to miss out on it. Whether you’re a diehard fan of THE SOUND OF MUSIC fan or it’s been a while since you indulged in it, I encourage you to make this show a priority during your summer trips to the theatre.

BWW Review: BEAUTIFUL: THE CAROLE KING MUSICAL Glows with Musical Genius at The Hobby CenterBWW Review: BEAUTIFUL: THE CAROLE KING MUSICAL Glows with Musical Genius at The Hobby Center
June 4, 2022

BEAUTIFUL - THE CAROLE KING MUSICAL is not only a time capsule of some of the greatest hits of music history, it’s a peek behind the curtain of how they all came to be. The life story of the iconic Carole King is inseparable from her songbook. This story starts with a Carole Klein—before she was the Carole King we adore—and takes us behind the scenes to see how her genius blossomed.

BWW Interview: Chris Iannacone Reflects On the Timeless & Tragic Relevance of THE WAR OF THE WORLDS at Classical TheatreBWW Interview: Chris Iannacone Reflects On the Timeless & Tragic Relevance of THE WAR OF THE WORLDS at Classical Theatre
April 4, 2022

Classical Theatre Company, known for boldly re-envisioning classic drama, is unveiling a world premiere adaptation of THE WAR OF THE WORLDS by H.G. Wells this April. First published in 1898, this science-fiction tale of an alien invasion is far from irrelevant to our modern day. Over the course of 120 years, it has been produced in various mediums and time periods, retaining powerful commentary on the fear of “The Other”. 

BWW Interview: Brett Ishida Spotlights Humanity & Catharsis in YOU COULD RELEASE MEBWW Interview: Brett Ishida Spotlights Humanity & Catharsis in YOU COULD RELEASE ME
March 18, 2022

Tonight ISHIDA Dance Company opens you could release me in Houston! This world premiere dance production features choreography by Montreal-based choreographers Jeremy Galdeano and Vera Kvarcakova, award-winning British Finnish choreographer Kristian Lever, and Paris-based choreographer Emilie Leriche. I spoke with ISHIDA Dance Company's Artistic Director and Choreographer Brett Ishida about the meaning behind ISHIDA's work, what ignites her as a choreographer, and what to look forward to in you could release me!

BWW Book Review: MAGIC IN THE DARK by Charles B. Moss and Jonathan KayBWW Book Review: MAGIC IN THE DARK by Charles B. Moss and Jonathan Kay
January 24, 2022

When an Uber driver asked Charles B. Moss Jr. what area of the film industry he worked in, Moss responded with “the boring part”. All I can say is, after picking up Magic in the Dark, I’m sure you’ll agree that is a vast understatement. But you'll have to see for yourself...Magic in the Dark is more a time capsule than a book, unlocking stories and histories about the movie industry that you won't believe have gone untold.