Sentimental favorite “The Sound of Music” has held up well over the years, and the Villa Playhouse’s production of it, while creaky at times, has its heart in the right place.
Directed by Villa regular Kathleen Nutt, the show’s greatest strength is in Lauralyn Lowe, whose strong, beautiful voice and genuine acting ability make Maria a lovable character.
Her interaction with the seven Von Trapp children, whose governess she becomes while their widowed father (E. Scott Wells) tries to get his life back together, is also a plus.
The children — Celeste Bales, Tyler Nielson, Brittney Nyman, Nathan Prawitt, Alexandra Wells, Syndey Kay Carlson and Madie Wells (the roles are double-cast) — are a delightful bunch, with far more personality and much less precocious mugging than one usually sees in a group of stage kids. Their “Do Re Mi” number is especially boisterous and entertaining.
E. Scott Wells exudes sternness as Capt. Von Trapp without being stiff or dull. His love for Austria, at risk to the Germans in the play’s 1938 setting, comes through sweetly with “Eidelweiss,” leading to the show’s always-stirring conclusion.
Impressive in this production are the costumes, which Nutt also designed. Actually, it’s not the costumes themselves (though they are nice), but the sheer number of them, and the number of times cast members are required to change them.
Some of the show’s many scene changes are slow and badly organized; surely better use could be made of the many cast members hanging around backstage. I’m told this is the result of having little time to prepare on the stage itself before the show opened; presumably, things will be fine-tuned shortly.
Overall, despite the fine elements already mentioned, the show doesn’t hang together well. It could be the slow scene changes and uncooperative set, but there’s also a general pacing problem, where the pace could be picked up even within the scenes.
Still, this should not deter “Sound of Music” fans from checking out this production, which generally fulfills its promise of being a charming family musical.