Somewhat Recommended ** Broadway In Chicago’s latest production of the glorious Rodgers & Hammerstein’s “The Sound of Music” opened at the Cadillac Palace last night in what was promised as a new and sparkling look at an old familiar classic musical. The production proposed a new look, deeper, richer and more powerful than ever. I am of the belief that “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”, and this production reinforces this adage. The story of the Trapp Family Singers with a marvelous book by Howard Lindsay and Russel Crouse and the elegant music of Rodgers & Hammerstein has been alive for decades, and as one who has done the show several times, I know the power of the story as we watch the family being forced to leave their country to escape the Nazi’s during World War II.
The musical numbers are divine; “The Sound of Music” ( of course!), “Climb Every Mountain” (well done by Melody Betts as the Mother Abbess), “My Favorite Things”, “Something Good”, “Sixteen Going on Seventeen” , “Do-Re-Mi” (Why was Maria’s guitar left in the case during this song? It has always been part of teaching them to sing) and a host of others. For the sheer energy of the musical numbers alone, this is a great introduction to “Musical Theater”. I for one never saw the chemistry of the great love story between Captain Von Trapp ( Ben Davis) and the young postulant, Maria (Kerstin Anderson, who has a solid voice), who was sent to his home as a nanny for his children. We are supposed to watch this man see the light of his relationship with his neglected children and find the love of his life. The script tells us they fall in love, but the actors did not!
The children were adorable; Liesl (Paige Silvester), Friedrich (Jeremy Michael Lanuti), Louisa (Ashley Brooke), Kurt (Austin Levine), Brigitta, my favorite (Iris Davies), Marta (Kyla Carter) and little Gretl (Audrey Bennett). Their voices are strong, but there seemed to be a sound problem during some of their numbers and director Jack O’Brien or choreographer Danny Mefford did some new things during “So Long Farewell” that were confusing and not as cute as the original concept. The Captain’s friend Max (deftly handled by Merwin Foard) was probably the best character in this production. Elsa, the Captain’s “fiancé” before he falls for Maria is ably played by Teri Hansen, but I am not sure he showed any feelings for her either. Another major part, Rolf, the love of Liesl’s life is played by Dan Tracy, who appears to be much older than the 17 going on 18, the character mentions in the show. They looked awkward together during their romantic number.
I love “The Sound of Music” and always find myself with a tear in my eye as the Von Trapp family joins in with the Captain in “Edelweiss” and although this production, with its “newness” and “fresh look” is not all it was purported to be, the story is still intact (sort of) and the music is still wonderful and meaningful, so you be the judge. Let’s face it, we have been humming and singing this music for over 50 years. “The Sound of Music” will continue at the Cadillac Palace Theatre located at 151 West Randolph Street,thru June 19th with performances as follows:
Wednesdays 7:30 p.m.
6/15 also at 2 p.m.
Thursdays 7:30 p.m.
Fridays 7:30 p.m.
Saturdays 2 and 8 p.m.
Sundays 2 p.m.
and on 6/12 7:30 p.m.
Running time is 2 1/2 hours with one intermission.
Tickets range from $24- $115 (not as expensive as many other shows, making it “family friendly”) and can be purchased at any of the Broadway In Chicago box offices, the Broadway in Chicago Ticketline at 800-775-2000, at all Ticketmaster outlets and online at http://www.BroadwayInChicago.com
To see what others are saying, visit www.theatreinchicago.com, go to Review Round-Up and click at “The Sound of Music”.