During the past year, Mitchell Area Community Theatre has “climbed every mountain” to keep the doors open and the shows in production. Director Anessa Klumb’s current offering of “The Sound of Music” by Richard Rogers and Oscar Hammerstein II, with book by Howard Lindsay and Russel Crouse, is a celebration of “finding their dream” by returning to maskless singing and a full house.
The musical tells the story of an affluent family in pre-war Austria whose military-minded father secures the services of a young convent postulant to serve as nanny to his seven precocious children. Maria (Nadia Mudder) and the Captain (Eric Van Meter) fall in love and must race to escape their beloved nation as the cloud of fascism from Germany descends.
The casting and talent on display in this production are truly inspiring. Mudder, a newcomer to ACT, is perfect as the ingenue who has spent most of her life sheltered from the world. Van Meter, a veteran of several ACT productions, embodies Von Trapp with discipline, but also with a soft spot for his new-found love and his children. Noel Ahlers brings her strong vocal ability to the role of Mother Abbess. Renea Schoenfelder as the Captain’s wealthy fiancé and Matthew Schilling as a frequent guest and talent manager portray a glimpse into the family’s place in society.
I could spend much of this space highlighting performances by the children. Notable is Aaryona Nedved as Liesel. Her “Sixteen Going on Seventeen'' duet with Cameron Gauger (Rolf) is a high point in the show. Each of the child actors sings beautifully and as an ensemble, they support one of ACT’s best musical productions in years. You may find yourself singing along to “My Favorite Things'' or “Do-Re-Mi” or the classic lullaby “Edelweiss.” Music directors Nick Taylor and Schoenfelder are to be commended for the stellar vocal performances. Choreography by Kayla White complements the singing.
The set is spare, designed by Klumb, Van Meter and Devin Carey. Consisting of platforms and a staircase, the space is well used. The use of spotlights enhances the light design by Tim Goldammer. And the pre-recorded musical accompaniment was flawless at the show I attended.
Costumes for “Sound of Music” are always similar and this show is no exception. Mary Day and Ruth Sejnoha have dressed the group of 23 performers in the requisite habits, drapery-wear, military uniforms and ball gowns. Despite some actors playing multiple roles, the costume changes are achieved quickly and efficiently.
“Sound of Music” is a personal favorite of mine. The opening bars of the eponymous opening number, the joy elicited by “The Lonely Goatherd,” the trumpets of the “Maria” wedding march, the lump in the throat when the family must say “So Long Farewell” as they flee their homeland, all bring back shared memories of a time when Hollywood produced big musicals and television brought them into our homes. We could ask for nothing better as we emerge from our pandemic year. Thanks to ACT, musicals will live on as some of our favorite things.
The show by Area Community Theatre has performances Thursday, June 10, Friday, June 11, and Saturday, June 12, at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, June 13, at 2:00 p.m. at the Pepsi-Cola Theatre. Tickets are on sale at the theatre or more information is available at 996-9137 or www.mitchellact.org.