The Hills Are Alive!

majesticThe classic Rodgers and Hammerstein musical, The Sound of Music, is alive and well at the Majestic Theatre. The local production is directed by Mary Jeanne Reynales, a seasoned veteran of the stage who has in the past put together shows of The Wizard of Oz and Fiddler on the Roof, among others.

This production stars local Willamette Valley residents, showing off the artistic talent of Corvallis and the surrounding areas.

I caught a preview performance the night before opening night. So there were still a few kinks to be ironed out, but for most part the show is excellent.

And it is not easy for me to say that. Not because of any beef I have with Reynales or the Majestic, but because of the longstanding feud I have with Rodgers and Hammerstein.

I hate The Sound of Music. It’s one of my least favorite musicals ever.

I do love a great local performance of an extravagant musical, though. The story of the ever cute and wide-eyed family of singers, the Von Trapps, is one that calls for lush visuals and a little room to run around (and spin around with your arms out in an open meadow).

Pulling this off on a not-quite-Broadway sized stage is a heck of a task.

The set design is really very charming, with visuals that give just enough without dominating the scene. The abbey where Maria’s nun friends wring their hands in worry for her soul was one of the set’s best moments.

But the thing that really made this production work, and is the essential element of any stage production, is the actors.

Dr. Patrick Chappell of Oregon State University’s veterinary medicine program was dynamite in the role of Captain Von Trap. The part, made famous by Christopher Plummer in the film version of the musical, was admirably filled by the surprisingly polished performer/neurophysiologist. Chappell sang, did a bit of dancing, played guitar, and actually acted.

In a production like this that is likely to have some first-timers and unpolished performers, having the lead male role be anchored by such a strong performance is instrumental to the show’s success.

Another standout from the cast is Virginia Bailey in the role of Liesl, the oldest Von Trapp child, who has one of the show’s best numbers in “16 going on 17.” But really all the children in this cast were excellent.

Kelley Marchbanks played the lead role of Maria and was lovely, showing off an impressive vocal range.

The comic relief of Herr Detweiler and Frau Schraeder were both well done, and with the scenes that were cut in this envisioning, the time, as well as the timing, of the whole show was just right.

Even a curmudgeonly hater like me couldn’t deny the charm. Go do your heart some good and check out The Sound of Music before it’s gone.

There are shows left on Thursday, Nov. 14 through Saturday, Nov. 16 and Wednesday, Nov. 20 through Saturday, Nov. 23 at 7:30 p.m., as well as 2:30 p.m. matinees on Sundays, Nov. 17 and 24. Tickets are available at the Majestic or on their website, www.majestic.org.

by Ygal Kaufman

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