Candlelight Dinner Playhouse presents a strong production of the classic musical
It’d be hard to find anyone who doesn’t know the plot of The Sound of Music, the venerable Rodgers and Hammerstein musical from 1959 that tells the story of Maria Rainer (Emery Hines), a wannabe nun who’s a bit too spunky and free spirited for the convent. When she is sent away to be the governess for widower Captain Von Trapp (Scott Hurst Jr.) and his seven, yes, seven children, she learns more about life and love than she ever expected.
Directed by Steve Wilson and choreographed by Carrie Colton, The Sound of Music at the Candlelight Dinner Playhouse is a grand production you don’t want to miss. There’s a huge cast, including seven children who very much impressed me with their poise and maturity on stage. I love seeing kids go after their dreams — and what an opportunity to do so with this musical.
Perhaps the child that stood out the most to me was the littlest, Gretl played by Khloe Trainor. While exceptionally adorable, she was also spot-on delivering her few lines, garnering lots of giggles from the audience.
Another standout among the children was the eldest daughter, Liesl played by Susanna Ballenski. At 16, Liesl is secretly falling in love with Rolf (Ethan Walker), the boy who delivers the telegrams to her house. They sing a beautiful duet of one of the songs this production is famous for: “Sixteen Going on Seventeen.” It was hard not to sing along. I also get the feeling Ballenski was the acting “big sister” for all the littles in this musical.
Adding to this production’s big feel were the many different sets that transformed the stage from a convent to a beautiful backyard veranda, to a mansion complete with a grandiose stairway, expertly used for the many entrances and exits of the characters. This all set with a backdrop of the awe-striking Austrian Alps — “the hills” of which both Maria and the Captain are so fond.
Costumes were remarkable, from Maria’s curtain clothing for the children to the elegant ballgowns at the captain’s party — a scene of great importance as friends begin to choose sides. Captain Von Trapp is determined to remain loyal to his beloved Austria, even amidst rising pressure to succumb to the Germans. Indeed, this production has two stories, that of the Nazi invasion and how exactly the Von Trapps will escape, and that of our sweet, song-loving Maria, who falls in love with not only the children of Von Trapp, but also, unwillingly and perhaps unknowingly, with the captain himself.
This musical is here just in time for the holidays, and with so many familiar and beloved songs you are sure to be singing and bopping along with this timeless treasure now playing at the Candlelight Dinner Playhouse through January 30.