Highly Recommended***** lately, in an effort to open up the Musical Theater to the Opera fans of Chicago, the Lyric has added one major musical to its season. They are the classics and the music of these big Broadway musicals is even more powerful as played by the Lyric Orchestra, conducted by Rob Fisher. This year, it is “The Sound of Music” with music by Richard Rodgers and Lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II. The book, inspired by The Trapp Family Singers by Maria Augusta Trapp was written by Howard Lindsay and Russel Crouse. It is the amazing story of Maria Trapp, a young novice who was asked to leave the Abbey and become the Governess for a family in Austria, a family led by a widower, Captain Von Trapp and his 7 children. Most everyone knows the story and of course the wonderful music that came from this work.
The movie version was a huge success and brought the story and the music to many people who have never attended the theater. There were some alterations and changes made to the movie version and of course, in a movie, one can re-shoot scenes over and over and as my grandson says, cut and paste to make it near perfect. Live, on a stage, this is not the case. Each performance must be as good as the last and if possible even better. The lavish production now on stage at The Lyric is by far as good or better than any other I have witnessed ( and I have seen over 16 productions, not counting those I appeared in) and is worth the price of admission for this glorious experience.
Stunningly directed by Marc Bruni on a divine set by Michael Yeargan that is about as impressive as one will ever see- imagine mountains on a stage- they are there! There are mansions as well and a veranda where i would love to host a barbecue ( if we ever get a summer day to do so). This is a vision to behold and for an audience, true theatrical eye-candy. YUM is the word. Alejo Vietti’s costumes, Mark Grey’s Sound, Duane Schuller’s lighting and Denis Jones’ Choreography add to the perfection that this production presents to the audience.
But what truly makes this production probably the best version of “The Sound of Music” you will ever see is the wonderful cast of players that have been placed on the stage. We must start with the Glorious Jenn Gambatese as Maria- her energy and vibrance as well as her vocal range is mind-boggling. One cannot help falling in love with her, which explains the Von Trapp kids doing so right away- They are adorable and talented:Liesl (Betsy Farrar),Friedrich (Brady Tutton), Louisa (Julia Schweizer), Kurt ( Michael Harp), Marta ( Kylee Hennes) and last, but not least, Gretl (Nicole Scimeca)- these kids will steal your hearts!
Captain Von Trapp is well played by Billy Zane ( although I never felt the chemistry that one should feel until the second act when Maria returns) instead of at the gala hosted by The Captain. His friend, Max is played by Edward Hibbert and his Fiancee by the lovely Elizabeth Futral. Please note that the play has some songs that are not in the movie that are done by Max and Elsa ( along with the Captain).. These songs have more to do with the politics of the times, but are fitting and I am very glad that they were left in the production. There are a few other songs that are moved about, but the key songs are all here:
“The Sound of Music”
and the list goes on and on. Amazingly, these songs, written back in the 1950’s are just as powerful today as back then. Not many musicals can say that. Of course, one of the most stirring of songs, the one that ends Act one ( and every audience member finds a tear in their eye) is “Climb Every Mountain” and Mother Abbess ( Christine Brewer) gives it just the right touch. The comic song “How Do You Solve The Problem like Maria” is still as cute as a button as performed by Erin Elizabeth Smith, Cory Goodrich and Susan Moniz. The von Trapp household servants are played by Mary Ernster and Dev Kennedy. Please note that there are great number of local stage performers in this production as there have been in the Lyric’s previous productions. Chicago has the talent and the Lyric uses them wisely.
Unlike other theatrical productions in this city, The Lyric has their own schedule, so to learn more about the ticket availability, the performances date and to purchase tickets, you might want to visit www.www.lyricopera.org or call 312-827-5600
To see what others are saying, visit www.theatreinchicago.com, go to Review Round-up and click at “The Sound Of Music”