The Sound of Music
"The Sound of Music," at SCERA Showhouse
by Eric D. Snider
Published on February 25, 2000
Two words sum up the best reason to see "The Sound of Music" at the SCERA Showhouse in Orem: Margo Watson.
Watson's clear, expressive voice and enthusiastic performance as Maria almost carry the show. Rare is the scene in which she appears to which she does not add radiance and charm.
Probably the show's most sincere, touching moment comes when she and the Mother Abbess (Nannette Neubert Wiggins) discuss Maria's love for Capt. von Trapp, culminating in the song "Climb Ev'ry Mountain." This is, alas, about the only time when the acting among the supporting cast does not seem strained and overdone.
The entire cast is blessed with fine singing voices, and the show has a great deal of singing. From the beautiful "Edelweiss" to the toe-tapping "Do-Re-Mi," some of Rodgers and Hammerstein's best creations live in this show. But whenever the singing stops, giving way to long stretches of dialogue, things slow down considerably. It would seem that as actors, many of these performers are really good singers.
The scene in which Capt. von Trapp (a very stiff Neil Whitaker) first introduces his seven children to their new governess, Maria, seems almost interminable. The same goes for Rolf (David Benson) and Leisl's (Whitney Williams) scene, and practically everything with von Trapp's dull girlfriend Elsa Schrader (Sherry Harward) and the unfunny comic relief Max Detweiler (K. Scott Harward) -- that is, until the songs start. Then, the pace picks up and everyone who's just been going through the motions -- which includes nearly everyone except Watson and the kids -- starts performing in earnest. Between songs, it's as if death takes the stage. The acting is broad, and the comedy doesn't inspire laughter.
"The Sound of Music" is from a different era of musical theater, a time when a character could say, "Let's sing about a herd of goats!" and everyone would do it. The story and characters still work today, though, as does the wonderful musical score. But the show needs performers who can sing AND act to carry it along. Otherwise, at 2 hours and 45 minutes, you run the risk of making your audience feel like they've sat through a marathon.
Copyright © Eric D. Snider.
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