Riverland is alive with ‘Sound of Music’

Published 12:00 am Thursday, April 26, 2001

You could climb the highest mountain and search high and low, but you would be hard pressed to find a musical more beloved than "The Sound of Music.

Thursday, April 26, 2001

You could climb the highest mountain and search high and low, but you would be hard pressed to find a musical more beloved than "The Sound of Music." The Riverland theater and music departments are bringing the play to a local audience.

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The story of the woman who never will be a nun has a timeless quality to it because of many factors.

"It combines everything," director Jerry Girton said. The play is at once a love story, a musical, a World War II drama and a comedy.

Based on the true story of Maria Augusta Trapp, "The Sound of Music" starts in an Austrian abbey and ends in the mountains on the Austria-Switzerland border.

Maria, played by Jennifer Jacobusse, is a nun who is sent to the von Trapp home to be a governess to seven children. When Maria arrives, she learns the children’s father, Captain von Trapp, played by Eric Sippel, is a strict taskmaster who makes his children march, answer to whistles and seldom lets them play. By connecting with the children and teaching them to release their feelings in song, Maria brings joy to the von Trapp household. In the process, the Captain finds himself drawn to Maria, instead of a woman more in keeping with his financial status – Elsa Schroeder.

"We have seven kids who sing really well," Girton said, "And 30 nuns who sing really well."

The four oldest children are played by Riverland students: Leslie Morlan plays Leisel, Bryan Gerber plays Friederich, Natalie Kestner plays Louisa and Krystal Schrot plays Brigitta. The youngest three children are from Austin area schools: John Michael Kestner plays Kurt, Jessica Vietor plays Marta and Mikayla Vetter plays Gretl.

Mother Abbess, who encourages Maria to find her dream, is played by Pat Parsons. "How do you solve a problem like Maria?" is asked by Sandy May as Sister Berthe, Andie Anderson as Sister Margaretta and Katie Nelson as Sister Sophia.

Playgoers who are familiar with the movie version of "The Sound of Music" are in for a surprise: Baroness Schroeder and Max Detweiler sing! Two songs in particular, "How Can Love Survive" and "No Way to Stop It" show these characters’ humorous and selfish sides. Jackie Oloman plays Schroeder and Guy Allore plays Detweiler.

Another change from the familiar movie comes near the end of the play: Watch for Rolf’s reaction to finding the von Trapps in the abbey.

All of the Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II songs are presented, including "Edelweiss," "Lonely Goat Herd" and "My Favorite Things."

Also in the play are: Jonathon Olson as Rolf Gruber, Leisel’s love interest, Jeremy Winkel and Beth Bonnema as the Captain’s servants, Franz and Frau Schmidt; Molli Schmidt as Ursala; Brandon Kaspar as Herr Zeller; Michael Hill as Baron Elberfeld; and Luke Mandle as Admiral von Schrieber.

The staging of the play and a live orchestra bring the audience into the action. The actors enter and exit from side entrances. This particularly carries an impact when the Third Reich storm troopers realize the von Trapps have left the festival near the end of the play.

Bringing the play to the Riverland stage is a collaborative effort of actors and technicians. Brad Weber is the technical director for the play, John Judd is responsible for the lighting, set design is by Bob Dudley and Scott Blankenbaker directs the music.

So if you can never get enough of "raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens," or if you want to learn how to sing "Do-Re-Mi," come to Riverland and enjoy "The Sound of Music."

If you do not rush to buy your tickets, getting into the play may be like attempting to "hold a moonbeam in your hand" or "catch a cloud and pin it down." Friday’s opening night performance is nearly sold out.


What: "The Sound of Music"

When: 7 p.m. Friday, Saturday and Wednesday through May 5, 2 p.m. Sunday

Where: Frank W. Bridges Theatre at Riverland Community College

Tickets: $8 for adults and children; available at Nemitz’s, Riverland bookstore and the theater box office. Call 433-0595 for information.