There was a standing ovation at the end of Friday night’s performance of “The Sound of Music” at the Trinity Alps Performing Arts Center. As the Mother Abbess (Veronica Kelley-Albiez) and the company sang the “Climb Every Mountain reprise” the Von Trapp family climbed the mountain to freedom.
Shanna Franceschini was as perfect as Maria as she was as Mary Poppins in last year’s performance. Her opening number, “The Sound of Music,” captured the spirit of her character while capturing the hearts of the audience. In the next scene the musical interchange of the nun’s Sister Berthe (Jillian Blackwell), Sister Margaretta (Stacy Neill), and Sister Sophia (Steffanie Desrosiers) with Mother Abbess had me mentally singing along. As a matter of fact, I am sure that the whole audience was doing the same following each and every familiar song as it was performed.
The sets were excellent and designed by Laurie Cunningham for quick scene changes. In many instances, action was going on in front of the curtain at the same time as the set change was going on. Director/Producer Jay Underwood used many innovative scene ideas throughout the production to put across the story. He did a fantastic job putting this musical together.
Captain Von Trapp (David Franceschini) and his family were well cast and seemed like a real family. The seven children were all wonderful actors and their voices blended perfectly. They were: Liesl (Lily Underwood), Friedweich (Rio Hawkins), Louisa (Grace Desrosiers), Kurt (Wade Goodyear), Brigitta (Maya McIntosh), Marta (Emily McIntosh), and Gretl (Inyo Johnson).
Maria, a postulant sent from the Abbey to be a governess to the Von Trapp family, comes into their lives like a soft breeze filled with love and music and immediately looks to change the strict military upbringing of the children. Music is the key to their release when their father is out of town. Singing songs, playing outside in play clothes made from curtains, fresh air and love turn them into normal children. Later a little romance enters the picture with Liesl and Rolf (Michael Jones) the telegram boy. They do a light and special interaction performing “16 going on 17.” Later, Maria gets confused by her attraction to the Captain. She returns to the Abbey and is convinced by Mother Abbess’ beautiful rendition of “Climb Every Mountain” to return and face her concerns and finish her job.
As I alluded to in the beginning, this show has its element of drama as it takes place when the Nazis are taking over Austria. Von Trapp is Austrian through and through and hates the way things are changing. His friend Max Detweiler (Michael Nickerson) and Von Trapp’s fiancée Elsa Schrader, a rich widow (Maggie Alvord) convincingly play their parts as Nazi sympathizers, and this comes across in their duet “No Way to Stop It.” This is to convince Von Trapp he should play along with the Germans. He wants no part of it. So it goes with a broken engagement, marriage to Maria and a plan for escape.
Other nuns, novices, and postulants are Mary Jane Edge, Mary Jo Fieremonte, Kelly Nordstrom, Jennifer Sprague, Alexandra Vorhies, Breanne Nevling, Emily Sprague, and Leah Wiseman. The nuns were especially lovely in their numbers. Singing in Latin is not easy. Randall Walker was the vocal coach for the nuns. Mary Jo Fiermonte saw to the fitting of all the costumes. Choreographer was Christian Redmill. The show reflects the great job the whole production crew did for this production.
Two other actors you will recognize from past shows are Katherine Manas as the housekeeper and Roy Weil as the butler. Others in this wonderful cast are Dennis Rees, Elaine Brown, Sam Pearce, Michael Blackwell, Abby Nordstrom, Alexandra Vorhies, and Stephen Whitecar. Party guests were Tom Fieremonte, Mike McFadin, Brennan Nordstrom, and Tyler Sprague. Some of the actors doubled in other parts and were part of the fantastic production crew.
The audience was still standing and applauding as the cast took its bows through two curtain calls.
Performances are Thanksgiving 7 p.m., Friday 7 p.m., Saturday 2 and 7 p.m., and Sunday at 2 p.m. Some tickets will be available at the door most performances. I would suggest getting presale tickets at the Trinity County Visitor Center, 509 Main St., Weaverville. Phone number is 623-6101.