Sunday, December 7, 2014

Sunday theatre: The Sound of Music

Rating:

My grandparents have been seeing plays at the Hale Centre Theatre up in Gilbert, Arizona for some time.  They invited us to see a play with them a couple weeks ago, and we accepted.  When we heard it was The Sound of Music, how could we not accept?

We all love the movie, and but we've never seen the stage version.  At least, not a professional one.  When I was in fifth grade, I played the part of Louisa in our elementary school production (my little sister was in it with me and played Marta).  Of course, I don't think that production was entirely legal.  It was the movie version, not the stage version.  Our director simply took the script from the movie and used it for our production.  So, even then, I had still never seen the stage version.

Just a quick note on our elementary school play because I think it's funny.  I was told by the director (who was also the choir teacher) that she actually wanted me to play Maria, but I was too short.  :b  I was also too short to play Liesl, so the next best role was Louisa!  I was indeed quite tiny.  I was actually among the oldest in my grade if not the very oldest, but I was also the shortest and smallest.  Even today, I am extremely petite.

But really, now when I think about it, I have no idea why we would put this play on in elementary school.  That doesn't really make any sense at all.  o.O

But onto the actual play!  We had lunch first (as I mentioned in my post yesterday) and then headed across the street to the Hale Centre Theatre.

We passed a water tower along the way!  Not sure if it's actually in use.  It didn't look like it.  I couldn't help but think of the Animaniacs.  :b


The Hale Centre Theatre was established in 1947 and features a theatre "in the round;" that is, the stage is in the center and the seats are situated around it in a circle.  We were upstairs on one of the balconies, so unfortunately, there was a bar in the way of our view, but actually, I liked the seats overall.



We all know the story of the Sound of Music.  Basically, a nun-in-training named Maria is sent to be a governess for Captain von Trapp's children.  Over time, she grows to love both them and the captain, and they all come to love her as well.  That's the first thread of the plot.  The second thread is that Germany is waging war, threatening the identity of Austria, to which Captain von Trapp is fiercely loyal.  Rather than be forced to serve Germany, he chooses to runaway with his family to Switzerland.  To be honest, on of my issues with the Sound of Music is that it is two very different plots pushed together into one story.  When I was a kid, that was really confusing, and even as an adult, it's kind of...annoying.  I don't know how else to put it.  It's like the show can't decide what story it really wants to tell, so it tells both, but then they both end up feeling a little rushed at the end.  So, yes, I do find it to be a great show, but that to me is actually a major flaw.  I'm not alone in that, am I?

The music itself is fantastic...for the most part.  There were two songs sung by the characters Elsa Schräder and Max Detweiler that were kind of boring, nothing special.  Not bad, just not great.  I guess that's why those songs weren't in the movie, haha.  The actors were also very talented singers.  The standouts were Heather Fallon as Sister Berthe and Kathleen Jensen as Gretl on Trapp.  Fallon had a gorgeous alto voice, and little Jensen was strong despite her age.  Everyone was really good, though.  I was slightly disappointed that Brandi Bigley as Maria Rainer was not an incredible singer, but she was certainly good, and she had such great energy and tone that I still think she was perfect for the part.

The direction was really interesting considering that there was no actual front of the stage.  They made sure each part of the audience got a good view of everything.  I thought the choreography and lighting were excellent, no hiccups as far as I could tell.  Great sound, loud and clear.  There were many set pieces that had to be changed in and out, but they were done efficiently and quickly.  There were never any pauses for set changes.  They were done while the characters sang or acted off-stage.

The play was quite long and had an intermission, just like the movie.  It was close to the movie except for a few key differences, but as with most movie adaptations, I think the changes for the movie actually made it better than the stage version.  That said, the stage version is a lot of fun and still fantastic.

Overall, I give this production four out of five peridots.  Great singing, good acting for the most part (though I did not feel any chemistry between Leisl and Rolf...I thought that was not a very well-done part), great set work, great direction.  It is definitely worth seeing and one I would be happy to see again.  I would've liked it if some of the singers were better, but that's not to say that they weren't great singers.  They certainly were!  But the key singers didn't have that extra punch I was hoping for.

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