Photo Flash: Foothill Music Theatre Presents THE SOUND OF MUSIC

By: Jul. 20, 2018

Los Altos Hills will be alive with The Sound of Music this summer, when multi-award winning Foothill Music Theatre presents the Tony, Grammy, and Academy Award-winning musical. This beloved musical, set in Austria in 1938, follows novice Maria Rainer who becomes the governess for the von Trapp family, capturing the hearts of the seven children and their father, a widowed naval captain. As the Nazis occupy Austria, the family is forced make decisions which forever change their lives, fleeing their home in pursuit of freedom. Director Milissa Carey, music director William Liberatore, and choreographers Brett and C.J. Blankenship breathe new life into this classic tale of hope, love, and family. The Sound of Music will play July 19- August 5, 2018(press opening: July 20) at the Smithwick Theatre, I-280 & El Monte Road, Los Altos Hills. Tickets ($12 - $32) and information can be found at or by phone at (650) 949-7360.

For nearly six decades, audiences of all ages have adored The Sound of Music, the final musical composed by legendary songwriting team Oscar Hammerstein II and Richard Rodgers (South Pacific, Oklahoma!, The King and I). The sweet and sweeping score includes favorites such as "My Favorite Things," "Do Re Mi," "Edelweiss," and the title song. Aided by a charming book by the Tony Award and Pulitzer Prize-winning writing team of Howard Lindsay and Russel Crouse (Anything Goes, State of The Union), The Sound of Music opened on Broadway in 1959, where The New York Post called it "wonderfully endearing," and The New York World-Telegram and Sun declared it "the loveliest musical imaginable." The musical received five Tony Awards in 1960, including Best Musical. Its 1965 film adaptation starring Dame Julie Andrews won five Academy Awards, including Best Picture, and continues to be the most successful movie musical of all time. In 2013, The Sound of Music aired on NBC as the first live television production of a musical in over 50 years, viewed by 44 million people.

Returning to Foothill Music Theatre where she performed as Gracie Shin in The Music Man, Jillian Bader stars in the iconic role of Maria Rainer, Most recently seen in Ray of Light Theatre's all-female production of Jesus Christ Superstar, Bader has also performed at theme parks in California and Florida including Disneyland and Universal Orlando Resort, as well as in featured singer/ dancer roles for Royal Caribbean cruise line. Making his Foothill Music Theatre debut, Scott Solomon takes on the role of Captain von Trapp. Solomon was most recently seen in Broadway by the Bay's The Music Man, and has also performed in productions at Hillbarn Theatre, Los Altos Stage Company, Palo Alto Players, Pear Theatre, and Coastal Repertory Theatre.

Returning to the Foothill Music Theatre stage after his recent turn as the chauvinistic boss Franklin Hart in 9 to 5 The Musical, Aaron Hurley plays the eccentric Max Detweiler. Hurley has also performed at Los Altos Stage Company, South Bay Musical Theatre, Sunnyvale Community Players, and Woodside Community Theatre. Elizabeth Claire Lawrence plays Baroness Elsa Schraeder, returning to Foothill Music Theatre where she performed in South Pacific and Damn Yankees. Most recently seen as Fastrada in Los Altos Stage Company's Pippin, Lawrence has also performed at West Valley Light Opera, Woodside Community Theatre, Pacifica Spindrift Players, Sunnyvale Community Players, and South Bay Music Theatre.

The Mother Abbess is played by Rachel Michelberg, who returns to Foothill Music Theatre where she starred as Marian in The Music Man and Anna in The King & I. Most recently seen in Sunnyvale Community Players' La Cage Aux Folles, she has also been seen as the Mother Abbess in Lyric Theatre of San Jose's The Sound of Music, and in productions at TheatreWorks Silicon Valley, West Valley Light Opera, Palo Alto Players, Lamplighters Music Theatre, Opera San Jose, and West Bay Opera. Leandra Saenz plays Sister Sophia, Joanie Pugh Newman plays Sister Berthe, and Melissa Costa plays Sister Magaretta.

Madison Colgate (Liesl von Trapp) and Ryan Rathbun (Rolf Gruber) make their Foothill Music Theatre debuts. Colgate has previously performed at Woodside High School, and Rathbun has performed at Mountain View High School and South Bay Music Theatre.

Rounding out the von Trapp family, Jake Miller and Austin Ota share the role of Friedrich, Grace Hutton and Charlotte Kearns share the role of Louisa, Billy Hutton and Wesley Stewart share the role of Kurt, Anna Savage and Sofia Oberg share the role of Brigitta, Sheridan Stewart plays Marta, and Mary Hutton and Alyssa Kim share the role of Gretl.

The stellar ensemble includes, April Aguilar, Voula Brown, Anthony Cardoza, Michelle Curran, Lauren D'Ambrosio, Emma Dapkus, Noah DeMoss Kathleen Hornbacker, Sarah Beth Johnson, M.C. Mendonca, Hannah Milon, Christi Skinner, Amara Snow-Miller, Jonathan Trimble, and Grace Wilken.

Milissa Carey (Director) joined the Foothill faculty in 2003 and teaches in both the Theatre and Music Departments. Carey has directed Foothill Music Theatre productions of Spring Awakening, Little Shop of Horrors, South Pacific, Sunday in the Park with George, All Shook Up, Working, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, She Loves Me, Side Show and most recently Shrek The Musical. Other directing credits include Kiss Me Kate and Almost, Maine. She has directed projects at RADA (The Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts in London), the American Conservatory Theater M.F.A. Program, Broadway By the Bay, Los Altos Stage Company, California Conservatory Theatre, Opera Academy of the West, among others. An award-winning Bay Area actress, Carey has performed leading roles with many Bay Area theatre companies including TheatreWorks Silicon Valley, Center Repertory Theatre of Walnut Creek, San Jose Repertory Theatre, American Musical Theatre of San Jose, CentralWorks, and 42nd Street Moon. She was in the cast of the 25th Anniversary Broadway National Tour of Evita under the direction of Hal Prince. Carey is on the faculty of the M.F.A. program at American Conservatory Theater and the San Francisco Conservatory of Music.

William Liberatore (Musical Director) is TheatreWorks Silicon Valley's Resident Musical Director, where he has conducted over 35 shows including The Bridges of Madison County, The Four Immigrants, Rags, The Life of the Party, Jane Austen's Emma, Sweeney Todd, Once on This Island (2014 TBA Award), Little Women, The Secret Garden, A Christmas Memory, Crowns, Jane Eyre, Ragtime, and Pacific Overtures. He was Musical Director at American Musical Theatre of San Jose, conducting over 30 shows there including Flower Drum Song, Gypsy, A Chorus Line, 42nd Street, Follies, and Children of Eden. He won the 2018 Bay Area Theatre Critics Circle Awards for The Four Immigrants (TheatreWorks), and has won Bay Area Theatre Critics Circle Awards for A Little Night Music, South Pacific, and Damn Yankees (AMTSJ), and Bat Boy: The Musical; Into the Woods; Emma; Caroline, or Change; and The Light in the Piazza (TheatreWorks). He is also the director of the award-winning Gunn High School Choirs.

Returning to Foothill Music Theatre where they choreographed the successful Side Show, Brett and Carmichael "C.J." Blankenship (choreographers) have jointly created dances for theatres around the Bay Area, including Pippin at Los Altos Stage Company and Cabaret, Reefer Madness, The Wild Party, The Addams Family, and The Toxic Avenger at San Jose Stage Company. Brett has also choreographed for San Jose Stage, Notre Dame de Namur University, Pocket Opera, Pacific Repertory Theatre, American Conservatory Theater Young Conservatory, Redwood City Community Theatre, and The Bracebridge Dinner at Yosemite National Park. C.J. has performed as a professional dancer, singer, and actor with companies such as Westchester Broadway Theatre, TheatreWorks Silicon Valley, Moving Arts Dance, Peninsula Ballet Theatre, Opera Paralelle, and San Francisco Opera. As a choreographer, he has worked for Na Hula o Moku'aina, Lyric Theatre, and Bracebridge at Yosemite, and has choreographed productions including Altar Boyz at San Jose Stage Company.

Richard Rodgers (composer) and Oscar Hammerstein II (lyrics) maintained one of most successful and influential partnerships in American Musical Theatre. Winning Tony Awards, Academy Awards, Grammy Awards, and Pulitzer Prizes for their collaborations, the pair composed eleven musicals that have graced Broadway stages, including The Sound of Music, South Pacific, Oklahoma!, The King and I, Carousel, Cinderella, Flower Drum Song, and State Fair. Their first joint musical Oklahoma! defined a new genre-the musical play-melding musical comedy with operetta. Prior to collaborating with Rodgers, Hammerstein also teamed up with Jerome Kern on Show Boat, and worked on operettas with several composers including Vincent Youmans and Sigmund Romberg. Prior to collaborating with Hammerstein, Rodgers wrote more than 40 shows and film scores with Lorenz Hart, including Babes in Arms, The Boys From Syracuse, and Pal Joey. After Hammerstein's passing, Rodgers won two Tony Awards for No Strings, and went on to collaborate on musicals with Martin Charnin, Stephen Sondheim, and Sheldon Harnick. Rodgers was also the first person to achieve the distinction of winning all four major American entertainment awards (Emmy, Grammy, Academy, and Tony Awards), garnering an Emmy for his score for Winston Churchill - The Valiant Years. In 1998, TIME Magazine and CBS News cited Rodgers and Hammerstein as one of the top twenty most influential artists of the twentieth century. Their music continues to be enjoyed by audiences all over the world-the Broadway revival of Carousel was nominated for a 2018 Tony Award for "Best Revival."

The 28-yearlong partnership of Howard Lindsay and Russel Crouse (book) was one of the longest collaborations in Broadway. Together, they won a Pulitzer Prize for their play State of the Union and a Tony Award for the book of The Sound of Music. Their play Life with Father still holds the record as Broadway's longest running straight, non-musical play, running on Broadway for over 3,000 performances. They also wrote the books for musicals including Anything Goes, Call Me Madam, Happy Hunting, and Red, Hot, and Blue, and wrote plays including Life with Mother, The Great Sebastians, and Tall Story. In addition, the pair successfully produced Broadway plays, even owning and operating the Hudson Theatre for several years-their most successful productions were Arsenic and Old Lace and their own play State of the Union. In 1959, Lindsay and Crouse were awarded a special Tony Award for their collaboration.

Foothill Music Theatre has won Bay Area Theatre Critics' Circle Awards for Outstanding Production, Outstanding Ensemble Production, and Best Direction, among others. The company has also garnered numerous awards from the Los Angeles-based Drama-Logue, and kudos from myriad Bay Area critics for its sharp, handsomely mounted productions of Shrek The Musical, Side Show, She Loves Me, South Pacific, Little Shop of Horrors, Damn Yankees, Spring Awakening, The Producers, Bat Boy: The Musical, The Pajama Game, Sweeney Todd, and many other musicals.

Photo Credit: David Allen


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