The Sound of Music – Stratford 2015

Written on May 28th, 2015

Solving a Problem Like Maria

Solving a problem like Maria is no longer a problem.  The Stratford Festival has it solved. Stephanie Rothenberg is the perfect Maria.  She makes this favourite Rodgers & Hammerstein musical come alive on Stratford’s Festival stage.

I always questioned the lyrics of “How do you solve a problem like Maria”.  Come on, we know that Julie Andrews never had curlers in her hair underneath that wimple – her hair was dead straight.  But the line that really bothered me was “A flibbertigibbet, a will o’ the wisp, a clown”.  No Maria I have ever seen – and I’ve seen many – has been all those things.  Once they arrive at Captain von Trapp’s home, the Marias take on great responsibility and become very serious.

This Maria really is a flibbertigibbet, allowing the children to jump on the luxurious circular sofa.  She is a clown, entertaining the children in the thunder storm, with her goat-like sounds as she sings The Lonely Goatherd.Sound of Music Stratfest 2015

The Sound of Music is the well-known story of Maria, a young nun-in-training who is sent from the abbey to be a nanny for a widower with seven children. She arrives to find the children marching about with nary a smile.  The Captain runs a very solemn household since the death of his wife.  Set against the backdrop of the Nazi invasion of Austria, it is based on a true story.

Credit goes to Director Donna Feore for playing up the playfulness and to Roth for making it work.  She is fun without being too silly.  She also possesses the rich singing voice needed for this huge role.  And while I love the way she starts out as a will o’ the wisp, she also shows her growth and becomes a loving mother, demonstrating her concern about the Nazi threat.

Ben Carlson as the Captain is slightly more relaxed and not quite as rigid as some captains are. Of course, he still has his whistle and the various signals to call his children.  However, it is much more believable that he falls in love with Maria.  The dance scene where the looks are shared between them pulls the heartstrings.

All seven children are amazing, great little actors and singers. The romantic dance in the gazebo with Rolf, the junior Nazi (Gabriel Antonacci) and Liesl (Alexandra Herzog) is beautiful.  The nuns have the requisite rich voices, and Nazis are fearsome.

There is even an extra bit of flibbertigibbery:  Four gardeners enjoy a drink and a tumble while moving the gazebo.

If you have never seen The Sound of Music, this production is excellent, a must-see.  Even if you have seen previous versions, come and see this one.  I think this is how it was meant to be.

The Sound of Music continues in repertoire until October 18 at the Festival Theatre, Stratford.  Tickets are available at Stratford Festival at 1-800-567-1600, or check www.stratfordfestival.ca

Photo: Stephanie Rothenberg as Maria (centre) and the children (Alexandra Herzog, Sean Dolan, Effie Honeywell, Alec Dahmer, Graci Leahy, Sarah DaSilva, Zoë Brown). Photo by David Hou.  

The Sound of Music – Stratford Festival 2015
Music by Richard Rodgers
Lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II
Book by Howard Lindsay and Russel Crouse, suggested by the “The Trapp Family Singers” by Maria Augusta Trapp
Directed and choreographed by Donna Feore
Performed by Stephanie Rothenberg, Ben Carlson et al.
Produced by Stratford Festival
Festival Theatre, Stratford
April 21 to October 18, 2015  Extended to November 1. 
Reviewed by Mary Alderson

One Response to “The Sound of Music – Stratford 2015” | Add Your Thoughts

  1. The Sound of Music is one of my favourite shows! This sounds like one I shouldn’t miss…..

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