Review: A SOUND OF MUSIC To Make the Soul Sing: MSMT Opens Its 2022 Revival Season

MSMT Opens Its 2022 Revival Season

By: Jun. 10, 2022

Review: A SOUND OF MUSIC To Make the Soul Sing: MSMT Opens Its 2022 Revival Season

What happens when one of the most beloved musicals in the canon comes to the stage at the very point in time when history and a harsh pandemic seem to intersect with an iconic story? Add to this serendipitous set of circumstances an assembly of creatives, cast, and crew that are nothing short of brilliant, and the result is a little like a theatrical miracle that will fill your heart with joy and hope and music.

On June 9, 2022, MSMT opened its first fully programmed Revival Season at its longtime home in the Pickard theater on Bowdoin College campus with a breathtaking production of Rodgers and Hammerstein's THE SOUND OF MUSIC. This last collaboration between these two giants of musical theatre is well known and loved, and though sixty years have passed since its creation, it is a story that continues to speak to our time - today more than ever.

In the gifted hands of director/choreographer Marc Robin, MSMT's new production feels both familiar and fresh, as if seen through the eyes of a joyful child with purity and wisdom. Robin understands the chiaroscuro of the piece and frames the story as a moral battle between darkness and light in which the light prevails and with it love, courage, conviction, optimism, humor, and warmth that wash over the audience and stir their hearts. Not only does Robin help his actors to find multiple layers of emotion in the piece, but he succeeds in telling this story, that turns epic at times, with cinematic seamlessness, perfect pacing, and well calibrated balance of tone.

Music Director Ben McNaboe (Ruchir Khazanchi, Associate Music Director) leads the orchestra with passion and skill. The production uses all of the music written for both the stage version and the additional movie songs, and from the first robust notes of the overture, it is a pleasure to hear this score played with such richness and color.

The physical production is lovely to look at and makes excellent use of the Pickard stage. Set designer Michael Schweikardt combines painterly drops and elegantly constructed interiors to suggest the magic of the Austrian countryside, Nonnberg Abbey, and the von Trapp villa. Paul Black's lighting design alternates among moods: the mystical feel of the Abbey, the creamy elegance of the von Trapp home, and the dark interior of the Nazi-dominated Karlsberg Festival stage. Sound designer Shannon Slaton creates a fine balance, and even adds some subtle effects such as the sound of a period microphone in the final concert sequence. Anthony Laskoskie, Jr. (Kevin Jacob Koski, coordinator; Kevin S. Foster II, wigs) provides the period costumes which range from understatedly elegant for the Austrian nobility, to purposely simple and a little drab for Maria in her governess days, to referencing traditional Austrian apparel such as loden jackets and dirndls. Production Stage Manager Mark Johnson expertly heads the stage management team.

Review: A SOUND OF MUSIC To Make the Soul Sing: MSMT Opens Its 2022 Revival Season The thirty-five-person cast (which includes understudies and swings) is a vocally and strong and dramatically talented group. Hanley Smith gives a stunning, embraceable performance, entirely original as Maria Rainer. From the moment she appears on stage singing in the hills, she dazzles with her vocal gifts - a rounded, rich tone, strong belt, and high-ranging coloratura. Her Maria has a sweet, sassy, funny, mischievous, gentle, honest, tough, irrepressible spirit with a heart as big as the mountains she loves. There is a disarming openness, a generosity and naturalness to Smith's performance that makes the audience her ally from the very first. One feels the love emanating from every fiber of her being, and one returns that in full measure.

Will Ray is a multi-dimensional Georg von Trapp: strict yet vulnerable, principled and brave - a man who has suffered a great loss and who must slowly find his emotional core again. The chemistry between him and Smith is palpable, and their burgeoning love story is deeply moving. Ray, too, uses his stunning vocal gifts to advantage in each of his vocal moments. Never has one heard "Edelweiss" sung with such passion and import and vocal brilliance - the first verse a gentle love song, the second a rebellious anthem, and he shines in his duet with Maria, "An Ordinary Couple" and in his harmonizing with the family singers.

Beth Kirkpatrick makes the Mother Abbess a very loveable, human figure, and her "Climb Every Mountain" that closes Act One is the vocal showstopper it is designed to be. Shannon Thurston (Sister Margaretta), Rebecca Robbins (Sister Berta), and Jill Christine Wiley (Sister Sophia) do a fine job in delineating their different personalities and perspectives in "How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria?"

Katie Sina is a chic, urbane, determined Elsa who uses her gorgeous soprano to dazzling effect in her two brief duets with Max, played with endearing humor by Blake Hammond. Susan Cella is luxury casting as a jaded, weary, yet still warm-hearted Frau Schmidt. Brian Padgett is an inscrutable Franz; Jay Poff an appropriately menacing Herr Zeller.

Review: A SOUND OF MUSIC To Make the Soul Sing: MSMT Opens Its 2022 Revival Season Any production of the SOUND OF MUSIC relies heavily on the charm of the youth ensemble, and this production presents six delightful youngsters and one luminous adult in these roles. Jaden Nicita (Friedrich), Sophia Scott (Louisa),Gregory J. Trapp, Jr. (Kurt), Kate Walters (Brigitta), Lily Philbrook (Marta), and Josie Marzilli (Gretl) coalesce into an enchanting ensemble - sweetly funny and touching. Taylor Quick as Liesl gives a radiant performance - believably dewy-eyed sixteen, poised on the brink of womanhood. In her scene with Rolf, played with excellent nuance by Austin Phillips, she displays her talents as a lyrical dancer, smartly partnered by Phillips.

The remaining ensemble* aptly play nuns, wedding and party guests, festival participants, and Nazi stormtroopers.

For the opening of this Revival Season, Artistic Director Curt Dale Clark and MSMT could not have chosen a better musical than THE SOUND OF MUSIC with which to wield their magic. Both timeless and time perfect, this beautiful tale and splendid presentation honor the story of Maria and Georg von Trapp and their children, celebrating their values of love, family, faith, courage, and hope - values for which music is the metaphor and the source of blessing and balm. There is something transformational about this production - inspiring, uplifting - a moment in the theatre when your heart will rejoice and your soul will sing!

*Ensemble: Jane Abernethy, Emily Bartley, Jonathan Bryant, Mikayla Jane Clifford, Brooke Taylor Cottrell, Preston Karp, Kyle Laing, Clara L. Neidlinger, Rebecca Robbins, Marcine G. Sopko, Danielle Vayenas, Megan Walz, Chana Wingard, Jill-Christine Wiley

Alternate Children's cast: Zoe Dinnerstein, Laura Guzman, Margaret Danger McNelly-Davis, Natalie Handy

Photos courtesy of MSMT, Jared Morneau, photographer

THE SOUND OF MUSIC runs from June 8-25 at MSMT, Pickard theater, 1 Bath Rd., Brunswick, ME 207-725-8769


Review: TOOTSIE at Ogunquit Playhouse Photo
Review: TOOTSIE at Ogunquit Playhouse

What happens when 'he' becomes 'she' in order to advance a theater career? The answer is Tootsie.

FIREFLIES Comes to Good Theater Photo
FIREFLIES Comes to Good Theater

Good Theater has announced FIREFLIES by Matthew Barber as the opener of the company's 21st season. Learn more about the show and find out how to get tickets here!

ELF THE MUSICAL Comes to City Theatre Biddeford This Holiday Season Photo
ELF THE MUSICAL Comes to City Theatre Biddeford This Holiday Season

Elf The Musical comes to City Theatre Biddeford this holiday season. Performances will run December 1st - December 17th. Learn more about the musical and how to get tickets here!

LOVE, LOSS, AND WHAT I WORE Comes to City Theater in Biddeford Photo
LOVE, LOSS, AND WHAT I WORE Comes to City Theater in Biddeford

City Theater in Biddeford is opening its 2023-24 season with Love, Loss, and What I Wore on September 29, 2023. Learn more about the production and how to purchase tickets here!


#repshow# in[i]# Go, Dog. Go!
Maddy's Theatre (10/06-11/05)
#repshow# in[i]# The Realistic Joneses
The Theater Project (10/27-11/12)
#repshow# in[i]# 50th Anniversary GALA
Penobscot Theatre Company (10/28-10/28)
#repshow# in[i]# The Drowsy Chaperone
L/A Community Little Theatre (10/26-11/05)PHOTOS
#repshow# in[i]# Paint Night by Carey Crim
The Public Theatre (10/20-10/29)
#repshow# in[i]# And Then There Were None
L/A Community Little Theatre (1/18-1/28)
#repshow# in[i]# Love, Loss and What I Wore
City Theater (9/29-10/15)
#repshow# in[i]# Dirty Deeds Downeast
Penobscot Theatre Company (10/19-11/05)

Recommended For You