The Sound of Music
Written by Richard Rodgers (music)
She must have done something good
|Drury Lane Theatre presents|
|The Sound of Music|
Review by Lawrence Bommer
It’s fitting that Rodgers and Hammerstein’s final collaboration is a tribute to the art and craft they served so well—music and singing. Like Mary Poppins, convent girl Maria Rainer is a very nice nanny (minus umbrella) who teaches by example and uses play to build courage and confidence. Fraulein Rainer worships through notes inspired by the mountains around Salzburg. Her non-negotiable adoration for his seven children (and her unspoken ardor for himself) wins the heart of crusty sea captain Von Trapp. Maria’s domestication of this military-minded household is so sweetly told that it almost needs the Nazis as a counterbalance of evil.
Of course, this is (more or less) the story of how the Trapp Family Singers escaped from the Nazi “anschluss” (the not so peaceful annexation of Austria) in 1938, giving up the family manse for freedom in America. It would be too good to be true if it weren’t both.
A show as basic as its title, The Sound of Music trades in elemental choices—God over love, honor over fatherland, art over profit. Its ending—with the Von Trapps leaving the homeland forever whose music they embodied—inevitably reminds you of the equal exiles of Anatevka in “Fiddler on the Roof,” another journey to America where no liberty was left behind.
In two hours and forty minutes Rachel Rockwell’s faithful and often impassioned revival (which borrows two songs from the celebrated film version) charms and convinces with every well-shaped scene. (Kevin Depinet’s rolling set pieces prove remarkably pictorial as needed.) A country may be desecrated but a family is renewed.
Preternaturally perky and cock-eyed with optimism (but that comes with this territory), Jennifer Blood won’t make you forget Julie Andrews but she proves as humble as she is plucky in her wonder-working. More crucially, Blood solidly grounds this unfinished Maria (whose past we never learn) as she weighs the security of the abbey against the adventure of love in a schloss and the sudden, unsought responsibility of unofficial motherhood. (She gives the title song all the natural subtexts it deserves.)
A consummate pro, Larry Adams registers the captain’s change from rigid widower to a life-loving music man and remade dad. Patti Cohenour digs dignity and depth from the omnipotent Mother Abbess and radiates bravery in the inarguable pep talk of “Climb Every Mountain,” the magnificent anthem of uplift that inevitably becomes a literal escape plan.
Their worth requires a sardonic counterweight: As the exemplars of compromise and corruption, McKinley Carter makes a suitably cold but not merry widow as Elsa Schraeder and Peter Kevoian brings broad verve to venal Max Detweiler. (In “There’s No Way To Stop It” they absurdly compare the Nazi takeover to the earth’s rotation, as if human folly is ever that inevitable.)
Katie Huff makes an endearing teenage Liesl but Brandon Springman is ill-suited (as in too old and ordinary) as her supposedly dashing Aryan dream boy Rolf Gruber, a walking Nazi poster boy. Finally, the sisters of Nonnberg Abbey carry the show’s title to heaven and back, while the Von Trapp children are as irresistible as ever. Whatever dancing you get here is entirely believable—no show biz showing off, though the children (who here come in alternating sets of adorability) do seem to improvise professional routines on the spot…
The Sound of Music continues through January 8th at Drury Lane Theatre, 100 Drury Lane, Oakbrook Terrace (map), with performances Wednesdays at 1:30pm, Thursdays at 1:30 and 8pm, Fridays at 8:30pm, Saturdays at 5pm and 8:30pm, and Sundays at 2pm and 6pm. Tickets are $35-$45, and are available by phone (630-530-0111) or online at Ticketmaster.com. (check Goldstar.com for half-price tickets). More information at the Drury Lane website. (Running time: 2 hours 40 minutes, which includes one intermission)
All photos by Brett Beiner
Jennifer Blood* (Maria); Larry Adams* (Captain Von Trapp); Patti Cohenour* (Mother Abbess); Catherine Lord* (Sister Berthe); Ann McMann (Sister Margaretta); Leisa Mather* (Sister Sophia); John Reeger* (Franz); Paula Scrofano* (Frau Schmidt); Katie Huff (Liesl); Zachary Keller (Friedrich); Laura Nelson, Dana Paulo (Louisa); Ethan Lupp, Ben Parkhill (Kurt); Arielle Dayan, Ingrid Lowery (Brigitta); Emily Leahy, Hannah Whitlock (Marta); Julia Baker, Marieclaire Popernik (Gretl); Brandon Springman* (Rolf Gruber); McKinley Carter* (Elsa Schraeder); Natalie Ford (Ursula, ensemble); Peter Kevoian* (Max Detweiler); David Girolmo* (Herr Zeller); Matthew R. Jones* (Baron Elberfeld, ensemble); Genevieve Perrino (A Postulant, ensemble); Craig Spidle* (Admiral Von Schreiber); Michael Accardo*, Audrey Billings*, Gary Carlson*, Michael Ehlers*, Jeff Diebold, James Lee Glatz, Sophie Grimm, Emilie Lynn, Liz Pazik*, Jennie Sophia (ensemble)
behind the scenes
Rachel Rockwell (director, choreography); Roberta Duchak (music director); Kevin Depinet (scenic design); Jesse Klug (lighting); Garth Helm (sound); Ray Nardelli (assoc. sound); Theresa Ham (costumes); Joel Lambie (props); Rick Jarvie (wigs); Amber Mak (asst. director, assoc. choreography); Carey Deadman (music coordinator, orchestrations); William Osetek (artistic director); Juli Walker (production manager); Beth Ellen Spencer (stage manager); Kyle DeSantis (exec producer); Drew DeSantis, Jason Van Lente, Abigail DeSantis (producers); Jim Jensen (special projects manager); Ben Johnson (orchestra conductor); Brett Beiner (photos)
Ben Johnson (keyboard, conductor); John Kornegay (reed 1); Michael Favreau (reed 2); Michèle Lekas (violin); Evan Rea (keyboard); Carey Deadman (trumpet); Art Linsner (trombone tuba); Marc Hogan (accoustic bass); Rich Trelease (percussion)
* denotes member of Actors Equity