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BLOG: Week 4 of The Road to Opening Stratford's THE SOUND OF MUSIC

BroadwayWorld Toronto is pleased to present the fourth and final entry in an exclusive series of guest blogs from The Stratford Festival. Stephanie Rothenberg (Maria in The Sound of Music) and Sara Farb (Anne in The Diary of Anne Frank) will chronicle their road from first preview to opening night in our newest feature "The Road to Opening!" Here, Stephanie writes about opening of the 2015 Stratford Festival season!

It's here!! Tonight is the Opening of the 2015 Stratford Festival! I'm so excited to celebrate the season with my family and friends tonight, but I can't celebrate too much because THE SOUND OF MUSIC opens tomorrow night. It's been 3 months, a million snowstorms, a couple dozen parading swans, and 13 previews, and now it's finally time to open!

But not before we had our final onstage rehearsal of the process. It's crazy to think how far we've come from the 1st time we did a "work through" of the show in the rehearsal hall. It was the first time that our entire company had really worked together in one room. Until then it had been lots of work done separately-the nuns here, the children and I there, and this was a very special day.

I remember how nervous I was to sing "The Sound of Music" in front of my company for the very first time, how when Graci Leahy (Brigitta) handed me the guitar for "Do Re Mi" my hands were shaking because I'd never played in front of people before. I remember hearing Anita Krause perform "Climb Every Mountain" for the first time with tears in my eyes, and seeing Ben Carlson's reaction to the kids singing "the hills are alive..." Thursday, after the show, we had our final rehearsal onstage before Opening Night, and I got to thinking about how different it feels at this point.

Two months ago when we had our first day on the Festival Stage, I was at once in awe, and terrified. I had never worked on such an extreme thrust stage, or done a musical without a conductor in a pit in front of me, or been so near to every single member of an audience before. For a stage that once seemed foreign and a bit confusing, it has now become my favorite space I've worked in.

People told me there's really nothing like it, and they were right. In an over 1,800 seat theater, you are never more than 60 feet away from any audience member. With the audience wrapping around you, you feel free to move and find thoughts in all places. It's very cinematic and freeing as an actor. I think it's also very special for the audience because they are brought into the story so immediately and so fully in this space.

I think about the process of getting this show to Opening night-the many hours of hits and misses, elation and frustration, and I am overwhelmed by a sense of gratitude that I get to share this story every day with audiences and do it with this incredible company. Playing Maria at the Stratford Festival is one of the most joyful experiences of my career and I can't wait for all the shows in the months ahead!

I hope to see you all this summer at the Stratford Festival! Let me know when you come @stephrothenberg #sfSoundofMusic

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From This Author Guest Blogger: Stephanie Rothenberg

2015 at Stratford: Maria Rainer in The Sound of Music. Stratford debut. Elsewhere: Ms Rothenberg starred on Broadway as Rosemary Pilkington opposite Nick Jonas in (read more...)