(HERSHEY, Pa.-LititzDailyNews.com)–There are few musicals as beloved and firmly etched into the American conscience as The Sound of Music, the Broadway show-turned-film that forever secured a spot in motion picture history thanks to the soaring vocals of Julie Andrews, a singable Rodgers and Hammerstein score, and sweeping cinematography of the Austrian countryside.
This week, the national touring company of The Sound of Music brings a rich Broadway heritage to the Hershey Theater for a limited run, bringing with it the energy, songs, and relationships that audiences adore. Will Maria marry the Captain, or will the Baroness snag him as her own? Will messenger Rolf get the message that teen Liesl loves him? Will the rapscallion battalion of von Trapp children welcome their new governess with a croaking or creeping surprise in her bed?
Stepping into Julie Andrews’ Shoes
It takes a courageous actor to step into the shoes of Julie Andrews, and actress Charlotte Maltby does so with great delight. Not only does the young Maltby possess a mature vocal finesse, she attacks the role in a charmingly playful way. Her sing-song delivery, timing, and innocence are reminiscent of Anne Hathaway’s performance as a reluctant princess in Disney’s film “The Princess Diaries.” Much of the time, Maltby sounds remarkably like Hathaway as she delivers her lines. She sings a sense of freedom and exuberance.
If it is soaring vocals you seek, you’ll need look no further than the the first act. Melody Betts belts out “Maria” and joins Maltby for “My Favorite Things” in her role as the Mother Superior, hitting high notes with such grace and ease that she sets the bar high for the production right from the start. She sends the audience off into intermission with a stirring “Climb Ev’ry Mountain.”
As familiar as one may be with the movie, the play features some delightful differences that keep viewers a little off-kilter. Some songs aren’t where they “belong,” (like “My Favorite Things” which is sung by the children later in the film) and others are not in the film at all. Those differences enhance the stage performance, and serve to differentiate the experience for viewers.
Teri Hansen portrays Baroness Elsa Shraeder with elegance and ease, while Merwin Foard inhabits the scheming yet likable Max Detweiler. Both are seasoned Broadway veterans, and it shows.
A Troop of von Trapps
The touring company features a delightful troop of von Trapp children, ranging from Paige Silvester as Liesl to Anika Lore Hatch as little Gretl. Despite the performance that ran past what one would assume would be their bedtimes, the children performed choreographed numbers energetically and delivered their lines professionally.
Directed by Broadway veteran Jack O’Brien, who received Tony awards for Hairspray, Coast of Utopia, and Henry IV, the national touring company of The Sound of Music brings fresh voice to the 58-year old play whose message may be more timely today than in recent decades.
While viewers are aware that the play is set against the backdrop of the Nazi encroachment on and ultimate Anschluss that annexed the nation of Austria to Nazi Germany in 1938, it is still a shock today to witness large, red banners bearing Nazi swastika suddenly unfurled on the stage in Hershey for the scene set at the concert hall in Kaltzberg.
The Sound of Music closes with a final performance on Sunday, March 25 at 6:30 p.m. A limited number of tickets are still available and may be purchased if charged by phone at 717-534-3405 or at the Box Office. Tickets range in price from $25-$83, but students and student groups may obtain reduced-priced tickets that will be released one hour prior to showtime. Contact the Hershey Theater box office for details. NOTE: Due to enhanced security screening and limited parking in the theater lot, patrons are advised to arrive 45-60 minutes early and to park in alternate lots surrounding the theater. Other performances of the touring company will take place nearby in Washington D.C., Schenectady, N.Y., and Ohio. For the complete tour info, visit TheSoundOfMusicOnTour.com.
Lynn Rebuck is the national award-winning editor of LititzDailyNews.com, an independent digital news source that received a 2015 EPPY Award Honorable Mention for Best Photojournalism. Ms. Rebuck was an invited guest of the White House in 2015 for her innovative publishing and use of social media. Email her at editor@LititzDaily.com. Follow LititzDailyNews.com on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.