BWW Review: THE SOUND OF MUSIC and Our Favorite Things

BWW Review: THE SOUND OF MUSIC and Our Favorite Things
Let's start at the very beginning with a few of our favorite things from the new touring production of "The Sound of Music." An outstanding orchestra, striking scenic design and magnificent nun's chorus make an immediate impression in Jack O'Brien's adaptation of the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical. Purists will be glad to see a script close to that of the original, and O'Brien has found a Maria that will delight all.
Kerstin Anderson stars as the young nun sent to take care of the children of widowed Captain Georg Von Trapp. Anderson has a rough start in a mediocre, yet well-sung version of the title song, but she quickly becomes a favorite with her fresh enthusiasm and cheerful nerve. Opposite Anderson, Ben Davis' Captain Von Trapp is strong in conviction and gentle in demeanor, not difficult or forceful, but struggling to find steady ground amidst political forces and the loss of a loved one. In the Captain's moment of revelation, Davis gives a raw, tear-jerking response - just a few seconds, but by far among the most memorable.
The seven children who - with Maria's help - open his eyes meet all standards of cuteness, especially the youngest, Gretl (Anika Lore Hatch) an intelligent and quick Brigita (Iris Davies), and the burgeoning Liesl (Sacramento native Paige Silvester). Unfortunately, these very talented cast members are poorly balanced and sometimes difficult to hear. It could be a sound issue unique to Wednesday's opening or it could be a more permanent problem. In any case, the tour is not without its share of minor "bee stings."
O'Brien based his production on earlier versions of the musical, so we are treated to a special moment between the Mother Abbess (Melody Betts) and Maria as they reminisce about their "Favorite Things." But this version also includes two earlier songs for the Baroness and Max, friend of Captain Von Trapp. The additions are fun, but require flawless talent and precise timing. The former we get in the impeccable operatic duo of Teri Hansen and Merwin Foard, but the latter is an obstacle throughout. O'Brien chose a marvelous, Broadway-studded cast, but the ensemble has trouble with pacing.
Other odd staging and choreography choices appear occasionally, but do not hurt an otherwise pleasant production. Natasha Katz provides dazzling columns of lights in a stunning Nonnberg Abbey. Scenic designer Douglas W. Schmidt uses moving columns and smooth transitions to create the various locations. His mountain backdrop (which goes strangely missing during the ballroom scene) bleeds through grand windows and lace-like walls with a captivating color palette. Of course, Rodgers and Hammerstein's beloved songs are bound to steal the show, but costume, lighting, and scenic design comes in close second.

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THE SOUND OF MUSIC
Broadway Sacramento
Through November 6



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From This Author Harmony Wheeler

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