Theatre By The Sea stages Rodgers and Hammerstein’s classic The Sound of Music as the second production of the 2012 summer season.
Maria Rainer, a young novice at Nonnberg Abbey, enters the household of the widowed Captain von Trapp during in the early summertime of 1938. Though she is meant to watch over the Captain’s children only through the end of the summer months, the vivacious Maria quickly wins the hearts of the entire von Trapp household through music and song. So begins one of the most well-known pieces in all of musical theatre – heartwarming, inspiring and loved by generations of audience members.
Brianne Moore stars as Maria in the TBTS production. Moore’s Maria is as fresh and light-hearted as can be; she even manages to recreate the exuberant mountaintop spin made famous by Julie Andrews in the 1965 film adaptation (no small feat on the petite TBTS stage). Moore displays all the necessary pluck of the character and also captures Maria’s moments of youthful vulnerability.
Patrice Tiedemann is a flawless Mother Abbess, infused with great dignity and warmth. Even Tiedemann’s smallest gestures contain great meaning, and her powerful vocals made “Climb Ev'ry Mountain” the musical showstopper of the production.
Andrea A. McCullough (Frau Schmidt) and Jean-Pierre Ferragamo (Max Detweiler) carried the comedic moments of the show with great panache. Local young actors were cast as the von Trapp children, and these rising stars – Samantha Dallas, Aaron O’Brien Mackisey, Meghan Lydon, Cole Mathewson, Abigail McMahon, Lily McMahon and Eva Senerchia (the “A” cast) – display great talent and are entirely professional. The timing and delivery of their lines was spot on and they seemed at ease on stage at all times.
The stage adaptation used for the TBTS production does have its problems. Once Maria arrives at the von Trapp estate, the story's pacing becomes slow and often choppy for the duration of the first act. The romance between Maria and the Captain suffers most greatly for this; their onstage interactions are limited at best, and “Something Good,” the love song that opens the second act, is entirely shortchanged. Baroness Elsa Schraeder, the Captain’s one-time fiancée, abruptly breaks the engagement for what appear to be entirely political reasons. The whole exchange happens in front of Maria, and practically as soon as the Captain pockets Elsa’s engagement ring (looking decidedly crestfallen), he turns and declares his undying love for Maria.
The TBTS creative team does an admirable job recreating The Sound of Music’s iconic scenery. Though the ballroom dance in the von Trapp grand hall doesn’t quite “sell,” the Nonnberg Abbey, the von Trapp estate and the concert hall stage present very nicely. The von Trapp’s mountainside flight from Nazi pursuers works especially well and has impressive depth given TBTS’s small stage area.
Performances of The Sound of Music run through July 14, 2012 at Theatre By The Sea. Tickets range from $39-54; rush seating and group discounts are available. Contact the box office for information on the June 24 “family-friendly” show times and ticket prices. Tickets can be purchased online at www.theatrebythesea.com, by phone (401) 782-TKTS (8587), or at the TBTS box office, 364 Cards Pond Road, Matunuck, RI.
Pictured: Patrice Tiedemann as Mother Abbess and Brianne Moore as Maria Rainer. Photo by Mark Turek.