‘The Sound of Music’ prepares for second weekend at Wilmington’s Thalian Hall

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Maria and the Von Trapp family. (l-r, b-f) Liesl (Jordan Davis), Captain Von Trapp (Zach Hanner), Maria (Elizabeth Stovall), Friedrich (Jakob Gruntfest), Kurt (Salder Selby), Louisa (Baylee Allen), Brigitta (Braelyn Sudduth), Marta (Piper Holmes), Gretl (Katie Grace Marinos) pose in for a photo in preparation for their performance of "The Sound of Music" at Thalian Hall. Photo by Opera House Theatre Company.

Emily Andsager, Contributing Writer

A classic such as “The Sound of Music” is never viewed lightly, but there was no doubt how incredible director Ray Kennedy’s rendition was last Thursday at Thalian Hall.

Kennedy, the director and choreographer of “The Sound of Music,” is a man willing to take a risk and excelling at it by getting the message out, loud and clear. He focuses on not only the big picture but also the tiniest details that fine-tune and really bring a production to life.

Having been directing plays and routines since a child and being a performer himself, it shows the experience and the hard work put into the show. Kennedy believes that what makes the production come to life is “all the pieces coming together, but what makes it soar is the cast.” Ray Kennedy explains that “The Sound of Music,” which sees the hard decision Captain Von Trapp has to make about his country, parallels our current election year and how people have to make a big decision about our country as well.

The brilliance of the set and props played with the intensity of what was arising between Germany and Austria while having a touch of childish comfort to lighten the situation. The backdrop of the mountain looked as if it were a soft glass window that changed with the lighting. The props and backdrop of the Abbey made it seemed as if the audience was actually in the Abbey itself.

The riskiest and explicitly bold move used in this production was the use of the Swastika at the ending. A move, that if done by another director, would not have really put the whole situation into perspective. It was a risk that was worth taking and really paid off.

The costumes were absolutely darling. Each outfit that the children wore had a touch of military influence, which really symbolizes how Captain Von Trapp, played by Zach Hanner, ran his household, not like a family, but like his very own miniature army. Schraeder clued in on the characters’ personalities. Maria’s who were modest and soft, while Elsa’s were sharp, colorful and elegant. The Captain’s clothes were always top-notch suits that were put together and never out of order, just like his rules before Maria arrived.

Zach Hanner (Captain Von Trapp) demonstrated not only his talent as an actor but the dedication that he puts into his performance, not to mention his entrancing voice. He not only learns his lines but breathes them. He is constantly practicing and working with Kennedy and the rest of the cast. To really get connected with Captain Von Trapp, Hanner did research on the character and watched film versions of the show, really focusing not on the physicality, but on the character’s identification as a Naval officer. This reflects in the movements and emotions that are performed on stage in a military manner. Every movement and dance had a place and a purpose throughout the production, whether it was to indicate emotions or to flow with the music. The music was provided by the outstanding and very talented 10-piece Orchestra.

The children were joyful, fun and frankly just plain adorable, especially little Gretl Von Trapp (Katie Grace Marinos). The children were a breath of fresh air during the dark setting of the play with their enthusiasm and beautiful voices. The song “Do-Re-Mi” between Maria (Elizabeth Stovall) and the Von Trapp children showed the children’s true potential.

Anything sung by Mother Abbess (Elizabeth Field) was memorable, whether it was “My Favorite Things,” a duet sung with Maria or the song “Climb Ev’ry Mountain.”

The song “Sixteen Going on Seventeen” between Liesl Von Trapp (Jordan Davis) and Rolf Gruber (Dru Loman) was a goosebumps experience. With Liesl’s angelic singing and Rolf’s agile voice, it was no question the excellent pairing of the two cast members for this song. With the excellent performance given by Liesl, one can only predict big things coming her way in the future.

Kennedy made great use of the stage, the aisles and the box seats throughout the performance. The theater felt thick with tension when there were officers standing in each aisle while the Von Trapp family was singing their goodbyes at the end of the show. It made the audience feel like they were part of the performance.

The Production of “The Sound of Music” will be showing Feb. 27- March 8, 2020.