Theatre Review

Matunuck is alive with ‘The Sound of Music’


Director Aimee Turner has worked miracles bringing this much-loved (and often-produced) Rodgers and Hammerstein II musical to the Theatre-by-the-Sea stage.

Casting Brianne Moore as Maria, the high-spirited young postulate who is assigned to care for seven von Trapp children, is the first good move. Let’s face it: There is only one Julie Andrews, and trying to emulate her would be a mistake. Moore, with her hair cropped short, as a person wearing a habit should look, makes the role her own. Her beautiful voice adds to the enjoyment.

Dan Debenport makes a strong Captain von Trapp, widowed and still grieving, escaping to his naval duties and relinquishing his children to a series of governesses so he doesn’t have to deal with his loss.

The voices in the huge cast are all good, even the children’s, but the showstopper is Patrice Tiedemann (Mother Abbess), an accomplished opera singer who brought down the house (or barn) with the moving “Climb Every Mountain.”

“The Sound of Music” is a challenging play to produce. It requires 20 scene changes, a challenge to even a Broadway production. Set designer Kimberly V. Powers, and a hard-working crew, keep the action flowing with beautiful sets and backdrops changing smoothly. Another miracle.

And then there are the children – five of the seven from Warwick and Cranston – who all come across as seasoned professionals.

I’ll admit that seeing “The Sound of Music” again for the umpteenth time was not on the top of my list, similar to seeing “Hairspray” again last summer at TBTS. But once again, Turner and her talented production staff have a miraculous way of taking the old chestnuts, breathing new life into them, recruiting top-notch actors, choreographing them so they do not crowd each other on the small stage and giving us another miracle.

Just about everyone knows the story and knows what is coming in the second act, and most of us know the lyrics to the classic songs that dominate the musical. The real enjoyment is hearing them sung by very talented singers, accompanied by a small but great orchestra led by Frederick Willard.

You don’t have to climb every mountain. Just get in your car and travel south to Matunuck for a bit of nostalgia and one fine production of a classic American musical.

“The Sound of Music” plays through July 14 at Theatre-by-the-Sea. Call 782-8587 for tickets.


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