The IU Opera Theater's summer musical is the favorite, The Sound of Music. Conductor Michael Schwartzkopf, director Vincent Liotta and choreographer George Pinney have put together a real theatrical summer treat in this final collaboration of Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein.
The story is of a young postulant coming to be the governess of the seven children of a decorated Austrian military man and widower, Captain von Trapp, their falling in love and then the family's dramatic escape from the encroaching Germans. This is certainly the stuff of sentiment, but it's also based on the true story of the Trapp Family.
The part of the commanding but kindly Mother Abbess in The Sound of Music is a fine role that takes a good actor for the thoughtful scenes with Maria and a heroic singer for the demands of the
song "Climb Every Mountain." Janice Hauxwell had just the right measure of strictness and wisdom and did a fine job with the singing.
Tiffany Rosenquist was the postulant and governess Maria. Rosenquist acted with great energy and sang beautifully in a role that puts a lot of sophisticated demands on her voice. Her diction was letter perfect, she simply glowed around the children.
The children are a key to any production of The Sound of Music. The show requires the children to so grow under Maria's teaching that they move the toughest audience, their own embittered father. They looked terrific and each had his or her own special character. All sang enchantingly. Solveig Olsen, Evan Van Doren, Britt Nicole Hendrix, Brian Lauer, Stephanie Marie Gardner and last, but not least, Lynne Bauman.
While we're on the children, we should specially mention Solveig Olsen in the role of the oldest, the "Sixteen going on Seventeen" young woman. She was appropriately bashful in her duet with the young messenger Rolf, sung well by Nathan Bick.
Taylor Hightower played the stalwart Captain von Trapp. Von Trapp is such a stiff character that it must be hard for an actor to come up with an appropriate range for his emotions, but Hightower's singing made up for the occasional lapses.
The secondary plot of The Sound of Music brings in a couple of characters who throw the drama of the Nazi takeover of Austria into even sharper relief. Jeremy Brimm plays a very engaging wheeler dealer theater entrepreneur, Max, who seeks von Trapp'financial support. Mollie Dustin was Elsa Shrader, a sophisticated if slightly brittle business woman who wants to be the next Mrs. von Trapp. Max and Elsa counsel Captain von Trapp to get along by going along in the song "No Way to Stop It," but he'll have none of this compromise. It's interesting that in a musical filled with heartfelt hymns, anthems and folk like songs, those two have their own separate musical environment in the show's only Broadway patter pieces.
The Sound of Music is a sentimental favorite for many and the IU Opera Theater production shows the success of loving and lavish attention to producing a delightful evening in the theater.