|Sophia Alawi is an ebullient Maria. (Photo by Mark Kitaoka)
Because of its memorable music, a plot based
on a true story and themes of the power of music and resilience, “The Sound of
Music” remains a classic of American musical theater.
Hillbarn Theatre & Conservatory’s
production does full justice to all of those qualities.
in a mountainous area of Austria in 1938, the book by Howard Lindsay and Russel
Crouse features a would-be nun, Maria Rainer (Sophia Alawi), whom the Mother
Abbess (Sarah Jebian) says isn’t quite ready
for the convent life. Instead she sends Maria to the home of retired
navy Captain Georg von Trapp (Jared Lee), a widower whose seven children need a
There she finds a home where the
children are treated like martinets with no opportunity for fun or play. Maria
changes all that, mainly with music, teaching the children to sing through
Her outspokenness and the results she
achieves with the children soon soften Captain von Trapp’s heart and blossom
Their happiness is clouded by the Nazi
incursion into Austria and an order for the captain to command a German ship.
He’s greatly troubled because his loyalties lie entirely with Austria, but he
fears the consequences if he doesn’t obey the order.
An opportunity to escape arises when his
friend Max (Brad Satterwhite) arranges for the family to sing at an important
music festival. Singing “So Long,
Farewell,” the family exits the stage one or two at a time and takes refuge in
the abbey. They then decide to escape to the safety of Switzerland by crossing
over Maria’s beloved mountains.
Directed by Dennis Lickteig, known to
Gilbert and Sullivan fans for his work with Lamplighters in San Francisco, the
cast is topnotch.
Chief among the standouts is Alawi’s
ebullient Maria with her crystal clear soprano voice and captivating stage
Another outstanding singer is Jebian as
the wise, kindly Mother Abbess. Everyone else is good, too, especially the
likable youngsters, making for full enjoyment of the music by Richard Rodgers
with lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II.
And what music it is with such hummers
as the title song along with “My Favorite Things,” “Climb Ev’ry Mountain,” “Edelweiss”
Jayne Zaban adds some nice choreographic
touches, most notably in the dancing by telegram delivery boy Rolf (Nicki
Weppner) and Liesl von Trapp (Chloe Fong) in “Sixteen Going on Seventeen.”
On the keyboard, Debra Lambert directs eight
musicians in offstage. The serviceable set is by Hunter Jameson with sound by
Joshua Price, lighting by Sarina Renteria and costumes by Stephanie Dittbern.
Running more than two hours and 45
minutes with one intermission, “The Sound of Music” will continue through Dec.
17 at Hillbarn Theatre. 1285 E. Hillsdale Blvd., Foster City.
For tickets and information, call (650)
349-6411, Ext. 2, or visit www.hillbarntheatre.org.