|Maria with the von Trapp children|
The halls of the Academy of Music are alive with the sound of music as over 18 songs written by the creative team of Richard Rogers and Oscar Hammerstein II echo throughout its chambers through March 20. Three-time Tony Award winner Jack O’Brien is directing this marvelous production of The Sound of Music. The young women portraying the nuns and novices in the abbey make a magnificent acapella choir. The five girls and two boys who represent the von Trapp children are all animated and vivacious. Together they sing beautifully. Alone they do as well, from the oldest, Paige Silvester in her role as Liesel to the youngest, Audrey Bennett in her role as Gretl. When Ben Davis first appears on the stage as Captain Georg von Trapp, he is a man everyone would love to hate, but thanks to the miracle workings of the new governess Maria (Kerstin Anderson) he emerges as the kind and caring man he was when his children’s mother was alive. Kerstin is Jack O’Brien’s discovery. He has said that he was “looking for someone with star quality” to play the role of Maria and he certainly found her. Although having only completed two years toward her BFA in musical theatre, Kirstin’s star is going to be rising very high. Not only does she have a clear presence on the stage, but her voice has a power and purity to it that is seldom found in someone so young. Melody Betts plays The Mother Abbess. She has several opportunities to sing in the first act but her solo at the end of the act is so commanding that it almost brings the rafters down. Perhaps it is due to the amazing amount of talent in this cast that the performances of Max Detweiler (Merwin Foard) and Baroness Elberfeld (Kelly McCormick) fall a little flat by comparison. Set Designer Douglas W. Schmidt has won Tony nominations for other sets he has designed and it is easy to see why. The screens and walls on on this stage move seamlessly both horizontally and vertically to reveal new sets virtually without giving the audience time to blink. This national touring production is celebrating the 50th anniversary of the much-loved film, The Sound of Music. Tickets can be purchased for this production by calling (215) 893-1999, visiting www.kimmelcenter.org. or at the Kimmel Center Box Office. Group sales are available for groups of 10 or more and can be purchased by calling (215) 790-5883.