‘The Sound of Music’ hits the stage July 20-22 in London

Crystal Moran (far left), who plays Maria in the Madison County Arts Council’s upcoming production of “The Sound of Music,” rehearses with performers playing the von Trapp children: (front row, from left) Molly Fahy as Louisa, Colin Carn as Friedrich, Sara Madden as Liesl, Levi Moran as Kurt; (back row) Avila Shea as Marta, Roselyn Shea as Brigitta, and Kirsten Neely as Gretl. Overseeing the rehearsal are (at right) directors Jennifer Ruhlen and Kevin Lohr.

(Posted July 13, 2023)

By Kristy Zurbrick, Madison Editor

The Madison County Arts Council has chosen an American standard for its summer musical production. “The Sound of Music” by Rodgers & Hammerstein hits the stage July 20-22 in the Joyce Hildebrand Auditorium at London High School.

“It’s been a handful of years since the Arts Council has done a standard musical with tunes everybody knows,” said director Kevin Lohr, who hopes to see audiences humming along to “Climb Ev’ry Mountain,” “My Favorite Things,” “Do-Re-Mi,” and, of course, the show’s title song.

The cast totals 36 and includes a combination of adults and children.

Among the actors holding leading parts are Crystal Moran as Maria, the spunky young woman sent by nuns to look after Captain von Trapp’s seven children. Stage veteran Paul Oswalt plays von Trapp, a retired naval officer who lost his wife to scarlet fever and has been raising his children in a strict, military style.

“Crystal’s voice is beautiful. Even though she has never done a role of this size, she is doing a fantastic job,” Lohr said. “Paul is doing a great job as the captain and has learned to play a boatswain whistle to call the children.”

Linda Keith has taken well to her role as Mother Abbess, the inspirational leader of the nuns at the abbey, while Brynne Adkins, dons an elegant air as Baroness Elsa, a widow interested in the captain. Adkins also serves as the show’s choreographer.

Sara Madden plays Liesl, the oldest of the von Trapp children, and the subject of yet another well known song from the show, “Sixteen Going on Seventeen.” Alex Homan, who will be a senior at London High School this fall, plays Liesl’s love interest, Rolf.

When it came to filling the six younger children’s roles, Lohr said he and Jennifer Ruhlen, the show’s children’s director, had an overflow of talent from which to choose.

“We had 42 children audition for those six parts,” Lohr said.

Rehearsing for the Madison County Arts Council’s production of “The Sound of Music,” are performers playing nuns in the show: (from left) Hadley Gammie as Sister Margaretta, Jennifer Ruhlen as Sister Berthe, Sherry Holland as Sister Sophia, and Linda Keith as Mother Abbess.

Before the audition, they decided they would cast the children based on their audition alone, independent of height or any other physical characteristics.

“As luck would have it, after the roles were cast, we made the startling realization that the selected children fit the perfect stair step height–total coincidence,” Lohr said.

Some of the young performers have stage experience, and some do not. All are getting along well with their parts and the musical process as a whole.

“Rehearsals can be very trying for smaller children. They need the ability to pay attention, take direction, and focus,” Lohr said. “Even the smallest children in this show have done a fantastic job. We attribute all of that to the amazing support that the parents have offered to their children. Giving them the opportunity to be in a show and nurture their interest in theater–that’s what keeps the world of theater going.”

As with the children, the adults in the show come with varying levels of experience, some having tried out for the first time.

“That’s of prime importance to the Arts Council, to engage new people who have an interest in theater. It helps us to create a broader sense of interest and inclusion in the community,” Lohr said.

Lohr also is excited to report a string ensemble is providing the music accompaniment this year. The instrumentation includes violins, viola, and bass. A guitar also is featured.

Tickets to “The Sound of Music” are $15 and can be purchased at the door or at www.madisoncountyartscouncil.org/events. Shows are set for 7 p.m. July 20-22. Doors open at 6:30.

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