BARNSTABLE — Most people are so familiar with the swelling Rodgers and Hammerstein score and the helicopter cinematography of the beloved 1965 movie version of "The Sound of Music" that you have to wonder if there is room in the pop culture panoply for a revisit to a stage production. Then the Von Trapp children appear on the Barnstable Comedy Club stage, and yes, you make room. You do it for the children.
The theatrical event that is the Von Trapp children is so remarkable that the Tony Awards once nominated all seven actors in the Best Featured Actress in a Musical despite the fact that two of the actors were boys. I, too, nominate this group for any upcoming awards: Chris Thorne, Eleanor Swindler, David Rozell, Allison Jodoin, Lexi Sky Davigon and Mackenzie O'Sullivan. Hannah Carrita is the eldest Von Trapp, Liesel, you know, the one who is 16 going on 17?
Our Maria, the clan's guiding light, is the wonderfully expressive Catherine McDonough. Her knitted brow reflects Maria's questioning — how to solve a problem like herself? Where does she fit in and how can she make all of this better? Through song. The actress brightly handles the great expectations of a musical masterpiece. Problem solved.
The patriarch Von Trapp is not quite the intimidating Baron as prior productions have given us, but may be more in keeping with reality: a loving, warm and quite musical parent. Bret Poulter has a loving, warm operatic voice that makes "Edelweiss" the national tear jerker it pretends to be. As far as the rest of the cast, it is large. I could use up my word count on just names. A few notable personas are Bridget Williams as the full-throated Mother Abbess of the Inspirational Track and James Batzer as the comic relief.
As directed by Marcia Wytrwal, "The Sound of Music" uses the physical space of the theater very well — actors' entrances are made off-stage, be aware of your feet. And although the "less is more" formula applied to the choreography may have helped with the pacing of the show, the ambitious musical is a terrific showcase for some of the Cape's beautiful voices.
The original Maria Von Trapp story was to be a straight drama. Can you imagine? "The Sound of Music" without any music? This version, under the direction of Geraldine Boles, thankfully features musicians: Larry Chaplan, Joy Indomenico, Kaline Christie, Richard Rubino, Patrick McDonough and John Birac on the double bass. The musical group does a beautiful job of moving the production through the many reprises that can make for a long evening. If you bring your children to see these children, make sure they've had their naps. It will be worth it.
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