WCT presents solid ‘Sound of Music’

Whidbey Children’s Theater’s “The Sound of Music” has a cast filled with talent to carry this cult-classic tale. - Cynthia Woolbright
Whidbey Children’s Theater’s “The Sound of Music” has a cast filled with talent to carry this cult-classic tale.
— image credit: Cynthia Woolbright

This weekend, Choochokam wasn’t the only event drawing a crowd. The hills of Langley were alive with the sound of music — make that Whidbey Children’s Theater’s production of “The Sound of Music,” which continues through Sunday.

“The Sound of Music” is based on the real-life story of Capt. Georg von Trapp and his family, their musical ability and their flight from Nazi control of their Austrian homeland.

The story spawned a book, numerous stage adaptations, as well as movies. It has turned into a cult classic with a passionate following.

At over two hours of production time, Whidbey Children’s Theater has taken a big bite by deciding to produce this show. But despite a few rough edges during the Sunday night show, “The Sound of Music” has a glowing performance as its silver lining.

From the opening chime of abbey bells the kids take charge of the WCT production of the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical.

The convent of nuns are the first to shuffle into the spotlight. They are a sweet little group of singers (Caiti Fjelsted, Elizabeth Grant, Samantha O’Brochta and Alecia Hauck) and Arand does a nice acting turn as Sister Berthe.

Their Mother Superior, Mother Abbess (Alexandria Brown) is a strong leader — both in voice, her acting and her presence as a truly motherly holy figure.

The nuns aren’t the only jewels in the performance that WCT has been able to cultivate.

Franz the Butler (on this night Nick DuShane, but also played by Evan Derickson), and Frau Schmidt the housekeeper (Fjelstad) add cute notes of comic relief.

Ahna Dunn-Wilder is mischievously perfect as the von Trapp’s oldest child, Leisl.

She’s got a sweet chickadee of a voice and is great at leading her love interest Rolf (Andrew Spencer) through the physical comedy accents in “Sixteen Going on Seventeen.”

Even Whidbey Children’s Theater founder and artistic director Martha Murphy gets into the act with a cameo appearance as one of the choir contest judges, which drew laughter from the Sunday night crowd.

Marissa Wilhelm is a delight as the story’s heroine, Maria, governess to the von Trapp family.

Wilhelm has the perfect level of maturity to lead the kids, and it’s obvious this cast has formed bonds.

Wilhelm and the children cast to play the von Trapp children have true chemistry together — the way they look at each other when embracing in moments of joy, or their fear, which appears effortless and genuine.

It is when the von Trapp children — Leisl (Dunn-Wilder), Freiderich (Max Cole Takanikos), Louisa (Dinah Hassrick), Kurt (Eric Vanderbilt-Mathews), Brigitta (Sommer Harris), Marta (Amelia Weeks) and Gretl (Emma Lungren) — and Maria sing together when the songs are the loudest, most clear and the most joyful.

The audience’s first exposure to the vocal stylings of the von Trapp family singers is in the song, “Do-Re-Mi,” which drew the first of many smile-filled moments from the audience.

The kids are getting to experience what the adult thespians in town have known for years: This acting stuff is hard work. But they’re pulling it off well, considering.

“The Sound of Music” is the first production with all the nuts and bolts to be performed in the new space: frequent scene changes (with many a heavy item), singing and dancing, complex acting, frequent costume changes and lighting configuration adjustments.

Overall, the technical and the backstage support is solid, considering the set-up and infancy of this production.

While the kids have previous tech and behind-the-scenes experience from the October 2004 production of Les Miserables, this is different.

Les Miserables was such a big production there were still many adults back stage directing.

This time around the kids, are predominantly on their own and are still adjusting to the set-up of their new stage home.

It is the eleventh Choochokam production that Martha Murphy has directed along with her daughter Emily Robertson, who gave musical direction.

If “The Sound of Music” and the subsequent applause that came from the WCT Mainstage theater this weekend is any indication — it won’t be their last.

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