Theater Review: The Sound of Music

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One of Rodgers & Hammerstein's finest musicals is triumphant as ever, remaining a family favorite for all ages.

TPAC’s Broadway Series presents:
The Sound of Music (Feb. 14 – 19; All ages)
TPAC’s Jackson Hall
505 Deaderick St., Nashville
615-782-4040 • tpac.org
Show times: Tue – Thu 7:30 p.m., Fri 8 p.m., Sat 2 & 8 p.m., Sun 1 & 6:30 p.m.
Tickets: $45 – $90

One of the most beloved musicals in Broadway history, The Sound of Music, is back on stage during a new national tour. This family favorite first opened on Broadway in 1959, and it won five Tony Awards, including Best Musical. The musical is widely known through its movie version in 1965 starring Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer.

The Hills Are Newly Alive

Fast forward to the 21st century where the hills are newly alive with The Sound of Music. The Equity tour featuring Broadway-caliber talent takes a fresh approach thanks to director Jack O’Brien. The three-time Tony winner — Hairspray, Henry IV and The Coast of Utopia — goes deeper with the characters and their relationships, while also adding fun new takes and fast-paced humor along the way.

Charlotte Maltby as “Maria Rainer” and the von Trapp children. Photo by Matthew Murphy.

This is evident when Maria (Charlotte Maltby) tip-toes through the background of the villa keeping a watchful eye during Liesl (Paige Silvester) and Rolf’s (Austin Colby) flirtatious “Sixteen Going on Seventeen” number. Furthermore, O’Brien’s direction of the other six von Trapp children — Elliott Weaver (Friedrich), Stephanie Di Fiore (Louisa), James Bernard (Kurt), Dakota Riley Quackenbush (Brigitta), Taylor Coleman (Marta) and Anika Lore Hatch (Gretl) — is fantastic. Each of the children lend unique identities to their characters making them real and relatable. The youth cast give the show much charm and whimsy.

Maltby’s delightfully nerdy approach aids Maria’s instantaneous bonding with the unruly kids. Her beautiful, dynamic voice soars on favorite tunes like “My Favorite Things,” “Do-Re-Mi” and “The Lonely Goatherd.” Maltby’s youthful energy billows across the stage which perfectly complements the dapper Ben Davis as Captain von Trapp.

A Re-imagined Captain

The Sound of Music

Ben Davis as “Captain Georg von Trapp” and Charlotte Maltby as “Maria Rainer.” Photo by Matthew Murphy.

Davis’ Captain is perhaps the most dynamic to date. His version is a deeply wounded widower who rediscovers his inner child in the midst of his own children. Davis is a fantastic leading man who gives the Captain a friendly persona, and his chemistry with Maltby is divine. It’s a powerful moment when the two realize they’re in love during the dance.

The sense of danger by the Nazi regime’s takeover of Austria is higher than ever in this rendition of The Sound of Music. Swastika-laden red banners make a sharp impact when they make a dramatic drop behind Maria and the children while they perform at the music festival in Act II. However, it’s Davis’ heartfelt, emotional delivery of Edelweiss that nails the gravity of the situation.

Oh, the Music!

In a show celebrating the transforming power of music, the music itself in this production is stellar.  Music Director/Conductor Jay Alger leads the lush, live orchestra, and high praise is also in order for Melody Betts as Mother Abbess. A veteran of regional theater, this is Betts’ first national tour, and she brings a lot of love, warmth and humor to her character. She also raises the roof at the end of Act I as she belts the crowd-pleasing signature tune, “Climb Ev’ry Mountain.”

While the love story between Maria and the Captain is prevalent, at the heart of The Sound of Music lies the theme of finding one’s purpose in life and facing fears to achieve one’s dreams. It’s about being present in the moment. Maltby, with the support of the entire cast, does a tremendous job in bringing this to life on stage.

Your family is sure to love this production of The Sound of Music. It’s certainly one of the most memorable and enjoyable renditions of Rodgers & Hammerstein’s masterpiece you’ll ever experience.

 

Featured picture: Ben Davis performs “Edelweiss” in The Sound of Music. Photo by Matthew Murphy.

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Chad Young is the managing editor and arts/entertainment editor for this publication.

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