‘The Sound of Music’ at the Throckmorton Theatre – Revisiting EdelWeiss

Katrina McGraw (as Maria). Photo by Alexa Trevino.

The Sound of Music is the story of hope and protest in occupation.  This telling is beautifully rendered with harmonies and heart, alive in a child’s song on a clear night.  We can ask for nothing more than this wonderful production of this timeless classic.

This last play by Rodgers and Hammerstein, opened on Broadway in 1959 and has remained in our hearts and minds over the years.  The Throckmorton production brings the story and music to three generations of actors performing here. 

The set is a joy to watch as it flows easily into the different scenes.  The Alps are always in the background to the grand house on stage, even while the action changes throughout the story.  The Abbey feels majestic under the watchful eye of the mountains.  Steve Coleman has designed a set to open the theatre to the Austria of 1938, with all pieces of the set formed and painted for the era.

The band is in the rear of the audience to clear space in the audience and on stage.  Music director and conductor, Justin Pyne, moves the uplifting music through the theatre with trumpet and harp to add color.  There is no doubt that we are experiencing the music with the cast, and enjoying every minute of it.

David Schiller (as Captain Von Trapp), von Trapp Children, Katrina McGraw (as Maria). Photo by Rebecca Gilbert.

Amazing costumes are everywhere, and in many sizes and moods.  The von Trapp family has 7 children and there are at least 8 sisters in the Nonnberg Abbey.  With a cast of 40 people, we see a miracle of authentic yet quick change costumes that bring the period to life.  Costumer Amie Schow has handled a Broadway sized production with style and class.  Congratulations to Schow and the backstage team.

Katrina Lauren McGraw plays Maria Rainer, an orphan and postulant who cannot stop singing and laughing. McGraw’s voice is clear and and strong in the midst of the busy family on stage. The young actors obviously love working with her, and she completes the family scene with warmth.  McGraw definitely solves the problem of Maria.

David Schiller (as Captain Von Trapp), Kimberly Marron (as Elsa Schroeder), Danny Slomoff (as Max Detweiler). Photo by Kenji Shiro.

David Schiller plays Captain Georg von Trapp, a widower and Austro-Hungarian submarine Captain.  Schiller is strong, yet sensitive in the father role.  As the Captain changes from a disciplinarian to a loving father, Schiller completes the arc for everyone to see and gains the support of the audience.

The sisters in the Abbey sing in amazing harmony.  Led by Desiree Goyette as Mother Abbess, the voices build the calm protection of the Abbey in the time of war.  Suddenly, the movement of set pieces ends and the theatre becomes the third row of pews in the Abbey.  Director Adam Maggio does a fantastic job bringing the singers together through the audience into the perfect harmony and peace on stage with the music and skill of Music Director Justin Pyne.  Did I hear the resonance of the gothic spires overhead?

Nuns from the Nonnberg Abbey. Photo by Amie Schow.

Director Maggio has carefully defined the constant movement of over 30 people on stage at different times, with subtle changes that go unnoticed until the new scene begins.  This understated stage choreography lifts this play into the realm of magic

Kimberly Marron plays the Baroness Elsa Shraeder, who competes with Maria for the Captain’s hand.  She plays the stereotypical baroness who is rich, determined and angry when she does not get her way.  She sings with Schiller in the delightful duet: “How Can Love Survive.”

Monica Rose Slater plays a very critical Sister Sophia, who forces Maria out into the world.  Danny Slomoff plays Max Detweiler, who becomes the moderating force in the household.  Both make very good character actors.

Director Maggio has given each of the seven children in the von Trapp family very distinct personalities and roles that they reveal with their coming together to sing and play.  They basically charm the socks off everyone in the theatre with interacting and loving their roles. 

Liesl (played by Gemma Strauss) sings “Sixteen Going on Seventeen” with a love struck Rolf Gruber (played by Noah Ong Bamola). This “coming of age” song defines the two youngsters from the beginning as innocent hearts and views, which sadly disappear with the Anschluss in the second act.

The story is beautifully told for us with a clarity that leads up to the beautiful “Edelweiss” sung by the whole family.  Edelweiss, the national flower of Austria that only grows high in the Alps, is symbolic of strength, toughness, courage, bravery and love.  All these factors make the flower a symbol of the fight for freedom.

Katrina McGraw (as Maria) and Von Trapp Kids. Photo by Kenji Shiro.

This show makes for a wonderful evening or matinee for the whole family.  It brings out the reasons why the story is still a classic of the stage as it brings adults and young adults and children together in the happiest environment around us: live Theatre.

The Throckmorton Theatre cast and crew and house are fully vaccinated for COVID-19; masks are required for all audience. 

“The Sound of Music” continues at Throckmorton Theatre at 142 Throckmorton Ave, Mill Valley, through May 29, 2022.

For further information and reservations: https://www.throckmortontheatre.org/   

Rating: ****½

“Sound of Music,” by Richard Rodgers & Oscar Hammerstein II, Book by Howard Lindsay & Russell Crouse, produced by Throckmorton Theatre.  Director: Adam Maggio, Music Director: Justin Pyne, Choreographer: Erin Gentry, Set Designer: Steve Coleman, Light Designer: Kevin Myrick, Sound Design: Ben Reese, Costume Designer: Amie Schow, Stage Manager: Ava Razavi.

Cast: Katrina Lauren McGraw* as Maria Rainer, David Schiller as Captain GBeorg von Trapp, Desiree Goyette as Mother Abbess, Danny Slomoff as Max Deetweiler, Kimberly Marron as Baroness Elsa Schraeder, Noah Ong Bamola as Rolf Gruber.

Children: Gemma Strauss as Liesl von Trapp, Kyle Headington as Friedrich von Trapp, Lilia Bernstein as Louisa von Trapp, Aaron Jensen as Kurt von Trapp, Karuna Schiller as brigitta von Trapp, Eva Lafky as Marta von Trapp, Mira Wulfstat as Gretl von Trapp.

Ensemble: Merrill Cover, Hannah Canin, Kealani Kitaura, Megan Mateosky, Sophia Mittelman, Ally Errante, Maddie Eaton.


Author: Gary Gonser

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