The national tour of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s 1959 classic The Sound of Music, the groundbreaking duo’s final collaboration, is a vocally stunning, strongly acted showcase courtesy of the Victoria Theatre Association’s Premier Health Broadway Series at the Schuster Center.
Jill-Christine Wiley brings great joy and endearing naiveté to her terrific portrayal of Maria Rainer, the troublemaking Postulant of Nonnberg Abbey sent to become governess to Captain Georg von Trapp’s seven children. Effortlessly soaring through such iconic numbers as Do-Re-Mi, The Lonely Goatherd and the title number, she radiates warmth, kindness and concern, personable ingredients necessary for Maria to be the life-changing force for good in the von Trapp household.
The handsomely brooding Mike McLean is a fine fit as Georg, effectively transforming from an emotionally scarred and grieving disciplinarian into a loving father. His beautifully tender rendition of Edelweiss, dramatically framed within Nazi flags, is an Act 2 highpoint. Dynamic soprano Lauren Kidwell conveys gentle compassion and sharp authority as Mother Abbess, bringing down the house with a gorgeous rendition of Climb Ev’ry Mountain at the end of Act 1. Keslie Ward (Liesl), Landon Brimacombe (Friedrich), Maya Karp (Louisa), Arick Brooks (Kurt), Katie Grgecic (Brigitta), Amaryllis C. Miller (Marta), and Sophia Massa (Gretl) are adorably cohesive as the von Trapp children. Ward particularly separates from the pack to enjoyably duet with Chad P. Campbell (Rolf) for Sixteen Going On Seventeen. Pleasant duo Melissa McKamie (Elsa Schraeder) and Jake Mills (Max Detweiler) give sophisticated flair to the underrated How Can Love Survive? and No Way To Stop It. Numerous featured roles are winningly executed as well.
In addition, this Broadway-caliber production, helmed by Matt Lenz recreating Jack O’Brien’s original elegant staging which previously contained refreshing non-traditional casting in principal roles, features a knockout artistic team. The group includes scenic designer Douglas W. Schmidt, costumer Jane Greenwood (providing astute evolutions in Rolf’s attire from messenger boy to Nazi loyalist), lighting designer Natasha Katz, sound designer Shannon Slaton, and choreographer Jonathan Warren recreating Danny Mefford’s original routines. Music director/conductor Michael Uselmann leads a first-rate orchestra.
Schmaltz often undercuts the potency within this meaningful account, adapted by Howard Lindsay and Russel Crouse based on The Trapp Family Singers by Maria Augusta Trapp. Nonetheless, O’Brien’s idea to re-approach the show by reiterating the importance of love entering the hearts of a family who desperately need it serves as a fulfilling foundation. As Georg tells Maria, “You’ve brought music back into my home.” Perfect for families, The Sound of Music is a sheer delight.
The Sound of Music continues Friday at 8 p.m., Saturday at 2 and 8 p.m., and Sunday at 2 and 7:30 p.m. at the Schuster Center, Second and Main Streets, Dayton. Act One: 90 minutes; Act Two: 47 minutes. Tickets are $45-$114. For tickets or more information, call Ticket Center Stage at (937) 228-3630 or visit www.ticketcenterstage.com.