By Ms. Hoo Sook Hwang
ST. PAUL, Minn. (Dec. 12, 2015) — The Ordway Center for the Performing Arts opened its 2015 holiday offering, the family-favorite, “The Sound of Music.”
Although fifty years have passed since the Rodgers and Hammerstein Musical debuted on Broadway, the music is as familiar to us today as it was opening. Favorites included “My Favorite Things,” “Do-Re-Mi,” “Climb Every Mountain,” and of course, “The Sound of Music.”
The play tells the story of a young novitiate, Maria Rainer, who is sent to be the governess to the seven children of Baron Georg von Trapp. Since the death of Captain von Trapp’s beloved wife, he has shut himself down emotionally and now runs the family like a military unit. Music has been banned from the house.
Maria, for whom music is as essential as breathing, brings music back to the family and quickly falls in love with the children, who blossom under her lively care. She shapes them into a musical troupe, singing traditional Austrian songs.
When Captain von Trapp returns home with Baroness Schraeder, a sophisticated widow whom the Captain plans to marry, and Max Detweiler, a friend and impresario for Austrian musical talent, he is at first outraged and then transformed by the changes Maria has wrought in the children through music. He falls in love with Maria, but the young girl is confused by her feelings and torn between her commitment to the convent and her budding love for the Captain.
When Maria follows her heart, she returns to the Captain and the family begins to perform music for their fellow Austrians at the encouragement of Max Detweiler. However, the threat of Hitler’s Nazism looms over everything, dividing Austrians from one another, sundering the relationship between 16 year old Liesl von Trapp and Rolf, her Hitler-youth first love, and eventually leading the family to escape Austria by traversing the mountains.
The voices in this performance were first rate. Maria, played by Billie Wildrick, exudes true talent, professionalism and passion. She bursts with youthful energy, practically cart-wheeling across the stage. Her voice is rich, pure and fills up the theater. She was a delightful and mad the “The Sound of Music” Music filled the hours with child-like piece, “Lonely Goatherd” and “Do-Re-Mi.”
Captain von Trapp, well-played by Dieter Bierbrauer, shows us his reawakened heart with his rendition of the poignant “Edelweiss” at the end of the story. Most of the theater company was made up of Twin Cities acting favorites such as Wendy Lehr, and, as is consistently true in local productions, the seven von Trapp children were simply outstanding as actors and singers.
The production was charming, the sets evocative yet fairly simple, and the easy familiarity of this musical romance makes for a delightful evening. The play runs at the Ordway until Jan. 2, 2016.