Reviewed by Kathleen Kirby
The Kearsley Park Players chose Crossroad Village Opera House Thursday for the opening of their marvelous production of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s The Sound of Music. A full house with overflow in the balcony greeted the large and talented cast as they brought the inspiring story of the Von Trapp family to life.
Director Kay Kelly used every inch of this quaint and historical theatre including the audience and the balcony as playing space. For example, it may not have been a mountain top, but when the first notes sung by Maria (Natalie Sevick) rang out from the balcony’s edge, we got the idea.
These full scale musicals are not easy to mount on a modern stage, yet the KPP crew was able to communicate all of the vocal power, charm and even fearful suspense of this play on this tiny vaudevillian stage. We should point out also that the only musical accompaniment was a piano and occasional on-stage guitar. No problem – vocals did the rest.
Beginning with the nuns in the local abbey where Maria has been trying to follow the rules, we must commend the Sisters Berthe (Pam Kimber), Margaretta (Laura Friesen), and Sophia (Alberta Dillard) and Mother Abbess (Kim Streby) for their awesome chants and the darling rendition of “A Problem like Maria”. Later, Streby electrified the house with her incredible voice and range on “Climb Every Mountain”.
Sevick is, of course, at the heart of the story and the show. She is wonderfully feisty and loveable as she transforms the Von Trapp children from unhappy automatons into happy and secure siblings. Naturally, the children steal the show. They can sing, they are darling even when they forget folks are watching, and they have their roles down pat even to the youngest, little Gretl (Broghan MacIntyre). Mary Page Rieffel certainly does justice as the eldest, Liesl, and is perky and cute with her “Sixteen, Going on Seventeen”. As Louisa, Allison Kimber’s voice is nearly indispensible, while Brigitta (Claire Collins), Marta (Lauren Hackett), Friedrich (Enrique Vargas), and Kurt (Simon Kimber) round out the amazing sound this group of seven produces over and over again.
As Captain Von Trapp, Carl Mizell handles himself with a certain swagger especially when visited by the elegant Baroness Elsa Schraeder (Kristina Lakey). His slowly developing affection for Maria is managed nicely.
This is a large cast – over 30 – yet a few more stood out: we enjoyed Amber Dillard as the strict housekeeper, Frau Schmidt; we laughed at Dan Darling as the wishy-washy patriot, Max Dettweiler; and we even found Bruce Green to be quite menacing as the Nazi Admiral.
All in all, this production of The Sound of Music was a delightfully entertaining evening spent in a delightfully historic theatre in a delightfully old-fashioned village. WARNING: It is only playing this weekend, so hurry out and catch this one before it’s gone!
The Sound of Music continues through Sunday at 7:00 P.M in the Opera House at Crossroads Village. For more information go to www.Cityofflint.com/kearsleypark .