Terrific vocals, effectively ominous Nazi overtones and a delightful lead performance are great assets to Epiphany Lutheran Church’s sufficient 20th anniversary production of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “The Sound of Music.”
Lovely soprano Michele Borns – simply excellent in Epiphany’s productions of “Jane Eyre” and “The Music Man” – was born to play Maria, the bubbly, devout postulant-turned-concerned governess. Borns delivers all of her musical numbers with winsome appeal and supplies a convincing evolution from spunky innocence to confident maturity. She doesn’t receive much support from an awkward Wayne Ulman as Captain Georg Von Trapp, but her vital scenes opposite Von Trapp’s seven children (enjoyably and compatibly portrayed by Erin Ulman, Timothy Seiler, Abby Kress, Nick Kress, Megan Ulman, Emily Kennebeck and Abbey Fry) are authentic, warm and humorous, especially “Do Re Mi,” “My Favorite Things” and Annette Looper’s colorfully choreographed “The Lonely Goatherd.”
Renee Franck-Reed, another standout soprano, is also strong as the kind, practical Mother Abbess. Franck-Reed’s firm rendition of “Climb Ev’ry Mountain” certainly brings Act 1 to an emotionally fulfilling finish. Ian Benjamin (Rolf) joins Ulman for a very charming “Sixteen Going on Seventeen.” Megan Rehberg (Baroness Schraeder) is properly sophisticated and attractively costumed by Maria Klueber and Lori Watamaniuk. Ralph Bordner (Max Detweiler), Sandy Schwartzwalder (Frau Schmidt), Chace Beard (Franz), Michael Shannon (Herr Zeller), Martha Armstrong-Benjamin (Sister Berthe), Becki Foster (Sister Margaretta) and Allison Tura (Sister Sophia) and the beautifully harmonious Nun Choir are also noteworthy.
Director Brett Greenwood astutely heightens the inherently sappy yet solid material with chilling archival footage of Hitler’s dark reign. Musical director John Benjamin leads a steady orchestra. Bruce Brown creates another crafty, eye-catching set design.
The Sound of Music continues through Sunday, July 24 at Epiphany Lutheran Church, 6430 Far Hills Ave., Centerville. Act One: 1 hour and 45 minutes; Act Two: 55 minutes. The production is double-cast. The cast reviewed will perform Friday, July 22 and Saturday July 23 at 8 p.m. The second cast, starring Kandis Wean as Maria, will perform Saturday, July 23 and Sunday, July 24 at 2:30 p.m. Tickets are $15 for adults and $10 for children 12 and under in addition to seniors 60 and older. For tickets or more information, call Jane Lane at (937) 433-1449 ext. 105 or send her an e-mail at [email protected] A portion of the proceeds will support the Leukemia & Lymphona Society in honor of the late Kay Frances Wean, longtime director of the Epiphany Players Drama Ministry.