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BWW Review: The Hills are Revived in THE SOUND OF MUSIC at Altria Theatre

BWW Review: The Hills are Revived in THE SOUND OF MUSIC at Altria Theatre
THE SOUND OF MUSIC at Altria Theatre

NETworks Presentations' production of Rodgers and Hammerstein's beloved classic, THE SOUND OF MUSIC, is nearly pitch perfect thanks to brilliant, refreshing new direction from Jack O'Brien, and standout performances by several cast members. Playing through Sunday at the Altria Theatre in Richmond, the cross-generational THE SOUND OF MUSIC is not to be missed.

Audiences know the story of Maria, the free-spirited young woman who miserably fails In her attempts to become a nun. She is sent away to serve as the Von Trapp family's governess during a time of anarchy. Maria not only falls in love with the seven children, but also with their austere military father, while bringing music and love back to the von Trapp household.

Douglas Schmidt's scenic design is extravagant and sparingly interweaves hand-painted backdrops, digital projections and large, physical sets to great effect. Jane Greenwood's costumes transport audiences to 1930s Austria with ease.

There are numerous standout performances in the NETworks production, starting with Keslie Ward, Landon Brimacombe, Maya Karp, Arick Brooks, Katie Grgecic, Amaryllis Miller and Madeline Guilbot as the von Trapp children. Pitch perfect delivery of nostalgic tunes like "Do-Re-Mi" and "So Long, Farewell" elicit chills. Ward's near-perfect performance of "Sixteen Going on Seventeen," however, is eclipsed by a stiff and awkward Chad Campbell.

Jake Mills and Melissa McKamie give outstanding performances as Max Detweiler and Elsa Schraeder. Mills has great comedic timing and one of the strongest voices in the production.

Jill Christine Wiley has the most daunting task. Audiences will naturally try to compare her performance to that of Julie Andrews. While it takes Wiley's Maria a little bit of time to settle in, she is up to the challenge and makes the role her own. Mike McLean is a young, handsome and convincing Captain von Trapp, and shows off a gorgeous baritone voice throughout numbers like "Edelweiss" and "So Long, Farewell: Reprise." The chemistry between Wiley and McLean is inexorable.

But it's the incredible Lauren Kidwell who nearly brings audiences to their feet at the end of the first act with a stunning "Climb Every Mountain." This show-stopping performance alone justifies the ticket price.

THE SOUND OF MUSIC is the perfect family outing this snowy winter weekend.

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