Skip to main content Skip to footer site map

Review: SOUND OF MUSIC at Palm Canyon Theatre

Rogers and Hammerstein's Beloved Family Classic

Review: SOUND OF MUSIC at Palm Canyon Theatre

It's hard to imagine a more perfect holiday show than Sound of Music, and Palm Canyon Theatre's current production of the Rogers and Hammerstein musical should come complete with a large gift bow!

After a prologue of nun's chanting, we are whisked away to the Austrian Alps by way of a very effective projection by set designer J. W. Layne. There, we discover Maria (Se Layne), singing "The Sound of Music" as she twirls and cavorts over the hills that have been her lifetime playground. We return to the abbey where the nuns have noticed that Maria is missing from vespers, causing them to sing, "How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria?" Mother Superior decides that Maria should take a position as governess to a local landowner's seven children, and we all know where that leads her.

The first act's songs are like a wonderful juke box including "My Favorite Things," "Do-Re-Mi," "Sixteen Going On Seventeen" and "The Lonely Goatherd." One beloved hit after another.

The Von Trapp children are always crowd pleasers, and the current charmers include Mia Alexander, A J Fernandez, Dayanra Huerta, Ryan Rodriguez, Reagan Kaminsky, Alice Steepleton, and Audrey Steepleton. Derik Shopinski's costumes - including matching outfits made from the curtains we see hanging in Maria's room early in Act 1 - make the kids even cuter.

A significant re-casting occurred in the week before opening, but director/choreographer Se Layne stepped into the role of Maria and was a joy to watch. Jaci Davis was also delightful as Mother Superior, and her rendition of "Climb Every Mountain" ended Act 1 on an emotional high.

Keith Alexander played Captain Von Trapp. He has previously won our hearts with his turns in You're A Good Man Charlie Brown and Shrek. His house servants, Michele Davis and Chuck Swenson did outstanding jobs of making possible throwaway characters into strong individuals. Sam Schwartz, previously ensemble, was elevated to the role of Rolf, the 18-year-old telegraph boy when the cast changed just before opening. He might have been a bit over 18, but handled the task well.

A real delight for me was Virginia Sulick who stepped in as Elsa Schrader, the baroness who is intended as the wife of Captain Von Trapp. Her characterization and singing were both strong, and her ritzy costumes looked terrific. Her scenes with the Captain's friend, Max (ably played by Sheldon Safir) were very enjoyable. Paul Grant was delightfully hateful as a Nazi neighbor.

J. W. Layne's set designs were very attractive and effective. He made good use of projections for the downstage scenes, projecting onto a curtain right at the proscenium for the hills, the abbey, outdoors, etc. The Captain's mansion was further upstage and changed from indoors to outdoors while scenes were being played downstage.

Maestro Steven Smith stepped in at a late moment to handle the musical director chores, leading the show from the piano. He was joined by David Bronson on drums, Larry Holloway on bass, and newcomer Lee Wolfe on violin.

Sound of Music plays through December 19 with Thursday at 7 p.m., Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday matinee at 2 p.m. Palm Canyon Theatre is centrally located at 538 North Palm Canyon Drive at the corner of Alejo. For tickets or more information, phone 760-323-5123 or visit www.PalmCanyonTheatre.org.

Note, there will be a very special Christmas concert on Wednesday night, December 15, at 7 p.m. It will include a toy and food drive for Toys for Tots and Food Bank. Many of your favorite theatre stars will be donating their time and skills for the fundraiser, and it will be a great way to share the holiday spirit with friends. $25 tickets for adults and $15 for students and children can be purchased through the box office or at the door on the night.

Photo by Paul Hayashi



BETTI & BRUCE Make Hi-Desert Debut In Joshua Tree At FURSTWURLD, February 10 Photo
On Friday, February 10th at 8PM (Doors 7PM), Musical Comedy Duo, BETTI & BRUCE, make their High Desert and Joshua Tree debut at FURSTWURLD after a year of performing for audiences across the US, UK, Ireland and Mexico.

Review: Desert Ensembles Southern California Premiere of KILL THE EDITOR is a Great Produc Photo
Desert Ensemble Theatre is presenting the Southern California premiere of Aren Haun's comedic drama, KILL THE EDITOR. As is usual with DET, the directing, performances, and technical aspects of the production are top-notch. What lowers the presentation from a 'must see' to a B or B+ is that, in my opinion, the script has some flaws.

Winners Announced For The 2022 BroadwayWorld Palm Springs Awards Photo
The winners have been announced for the 2022 BroadwayWorld Palm Springs Awards, honoring the best in regional productions, touring shows, and more which had their first performance between October 1, 2021 through September 30, 2022.

Hollywood Comes To Palm Springs For UNSUNG MIDLER Photo
Popular (and most times infamous) podcaster, journalist, on-air personality, and former Palm Springs Pride Media Grand Marshal Alexander Rodriguez returns to the stage after a five-year absence (thanks to procrastination and COVID) for an irreverent night of storytelling and song with Unsung Midler, celebrating the great, lesser-known hits of the Divine Miss M from The Rose, For the Boys, and Beaches to her numerous albums and covers.


From This Author - Stan Jenson

STAN JENSON has been acting for 58 years since his high school debut at the age of 14. In those ensuing years, he has appeared in several hundred productions across the United States and Australia ... (read more about this author)


Local Playwright Returns With Palm Springs-Based MusicalLocal Playwright Returns With Palm Springs-Based Musical
January 20, 2023

Palm Springs Getaway keeps getting better as it presents Version 2.1 Local playwright Cara Van Dijk is a busy lady. Well, make that playwright, author, journalist, publicist, producer, actress, wife and mother. Her recent musical Palm Springs Getaway is currently in its second production at Palm Canyon Theatre (PCT), the Valley's longest-operating theatre company, and even though audiences are proclaiming the show to be 'A joy' and 'a pure delight,' every time she sees a rehearsal or performance she thinks, 'Next time we'll try....' It's certainly the happy sort of show you can sit through multiple times, and I know I enjoyed seeing what was kept from last year's production and what was new.

Review: THE LINCOLN DEBATE at The BentReview: THE LINCOLN DEBATE at The Bent
January 2, 2023

The Bent Theatre is coming to Palm Springs and their preview production was a knock-out!

Review: PALM SPRINGS GETAWAY at Palm Canyon TheatreReview: PALM SPRINGS GETAWAY at Palm Canyon Theatre
December 8, 2022

What did our critic think of PALM SPRINGS GETAWAY at Palm Canyon Theatre? Palm Canyon Theatre has revived a new, streamlined version of Palm Springs Getaway, their original 'musical romp' which they premiered last season. I'll start right out by confessing that I was in the original production so I know it well, though I never actually 'saw' it. I'm delighted to report that playwright Cara Van Dijk, aided by Eric Stein-Steele and Se Layne, has kept the best of the first production and replaced a few of the previously weak moments with some very strong scenes. The result is a tuneful, educational, nostalgic and totally enjoyable couple of hours.

Review: THE FANTASTICKS at College Of The DesertReview: THE FANTASTICKS at College Of The Desert
November 16, 2022

COD's production of THE FANTASTICKS is a simple joy -- something we can all use more of!

Review: BAREFOOT IN THE PARK at Desert TheatreworksReview: BAREFOOT IN THE PARK at Desert Theatreworks
November 9, 2022

What did our critic think of BAREFOOT IN THE PARK at Desert Theatreworks?