Saturday September 23rd 2017

“The Sound of Music”

There are theater audiences who constantly ask why our playhouses continue to bring back old musicals, some as many as fifty years old instead of finding new and different productions for their stages. The answer is loud and clear as Drury Lane Oakbrook brings the award winning “The Sound of Music” to its stage for the holiday season. This Richard Rodgers(music) and Oscar Hammerstein II ( lyrics) classic musical with a book written by Howard Lindsay and Russel Crouse, suggested by the “The Story Of The Trapp Family Singers” has been making the rounds for years and years ( since 1959) and yet under the careful eye of director/Choreographer Rachel Rockwell, this old love story has new life breathed into it.

The time is  late 1930’s in Austria, a time of fear for those in this country as it looks as if Hitler and his powerful movement is about to take over and change the lives of the Austrians. Meanwhile, a young girl, Maria ( a heavenly performance by the energetic Jennifer Blood ( you will fall in love with her, guaranteed!) who has chosen the life of a nun is asked to leave the Abbey and take on the role of governess to the seven children of the local hero ( and widower) Captain Von Trapp ( played to perfection by Chicago favorite Larry Adams) who has raised his children in a military fashion since his wife passed away.

Maria changes not only their lives, but that of the captain and her own in this marvelous love story that deals with faith and hope in addition to love. Most of the story is about each of the main characters finding themselves through the other but also takes us into faith in our own destiny and our own control over this destiny. We also learn about what love can do to change a person and  how this family dealt with their own situation with the Nazi arty as it took over their country.

Ms. Rockwell has put together a very tight show with a cast of some of Chicago’s finest ( even in smaller roles, big names) on a smartly designed set (Kevin Depinet) that allows easy, well choreographed set changes and keeps the action moving along ( this is a 2 1/2 hour production, so if this is not handled properly, scene changes can feel like an eternity and the production could go much longer with large time gaps),

The Nuns that do “How Do You Solve A Problem Like Maria) are intense and funny ( well played by Catherine Lord, Ann McMann, Leisa Mather and an incredible Patti Cohenour as The Mother Abbess ( a role she played on Broadway in the revival of “Sound” in the late 90’s). Her rendition of “Climb Ev’ry Mountain” that ends Act one will bring atear to your eye and a warm feeling to your heart. You will probably reach over an dtake the hand of your date. This is just one of many great songs and well done numbers in this slick, smooth and dynamic revival. “Sixteen Going On 17 ” ( done beautifully by Katie Huff as Liesl, the eldest Von Trapp daughter) ,”So Long Farewell”, “My Favorite Things”, “I Have Confidence”, “The Sound Of Music” and “Edelweiss” plus a lot more. Some comic , some sad, some lovey dovey, but all songs that you will find yourself humming as you leave the theater.

As I mentioned earlier, the talent in this show is amazing, correction- ABSOLUTELY AMAZING! Even some of the smaller character roles are handled by our cream of the crop-  the always glamorous McKinley Carter, the hysterical Peter Kevoian as the comic character ( but with a serious heart) Max,John Reeger and Paula Scrofano as the Von Trapp staffers ( this couple has appeared on every Chicago stage in every sort of part, musical and non musical and they are always up to the task at hand, and then some, The incredible Craig Spidle showing that there are no small parts as Admiral Von Schreiber and David Girolmo as Herr Zeller. Brandon Springman, although a bit older than the Rolf Character does a nice job and his dance number with Liesl is extraodinary as well. Roberta Duchak, as always does a marvelous job as musical director with Ben Johnson handing the orchestra as conductor. The costumes by Theresa Hamm and the lighting by Jesse Klug along with the sound by Garth Helm and props by Joel Lambie are the icing on the cake.

They say that the hardest job for an actor is to work with animals or kids as they will steal every scene from you, no matter how good you are. The kids in this production are very talented. With the exception of Liesl and Friedrich(Zachaery Keller), all the others are double cast- tonight we were priveledged to watch Emily Leahy as Marta, Laura Nelson as Lousia, Arielle Dayan as Brigitta and the adorable Julia Baker as Gretl. During the curtain call, the “other cast” came onstage as well which I found very fitting as this was the opener, a special moment for those in the cast and this allowed these kids the same feeling as ther counterparts. Whoever came up with doing this should be saluted- great job!

Whether you have seen “The Sound Of Music” as a movie, in a community theater production, on one of our resident theaters or a road company, you truly owe it to yourself to come out to Oakbrook and see it again. Rockwell has revitalized the show by having all the ingredients of a perfect production in her stewpot- they all smell good and taste better. Put this on your Holiday TO DO LIST! It will continue through  January 6th , 2012 ( I can’t believe I just wrote 2012) with performances as follows:

Wednesdays 1:30 p.m., Thursdays 1;30 p.m. and 8 p.m.,Fridays at 8:30 pm, Saturdays at 5 ad 8:30 p.m. and Sundays at 2 and 6 p.m.

Tickets range from $35-$46 and there are some lunch and dinner packages available for as low as $49.75.

To place your order/reservation, call the box office at 630-530-0111, call Ticketmaster at 800-745-3000 or visit www.drurylaneoakbrook.com

there are student/senior rates and plenty of free parking at Drury Lane Oakbrook, located at 100 Drury Lane in OakBrook, just north of the Oakbrook Shopping Center ( rte 22) in OakBrook.

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