To watch a video preview of this play, please see bottom of page.
By Nikki Garrett Metzger
High Desert Daily Theater Critic
(Victorville) — All time family favorite The Sound of Music opened at the High Desert Center for the Arts on Friday. The timeless story of the von Trapp family has pleased audiences, film and theater-goers alike for decades, and it’s live theater productions like Hannett/Thorn’s newest show that thrive and succeed at bringing these iconic shows to audiences young and old.
The beautifully sung “Preludium” in the opening scene at the Abbey sets the bar for this production. The pieces sung by the cast of Nuns, such as this and “Confitemini Domino,” are welcome musical moments that stand out in this excellent production.
Tammy Austin as Mother Abbess has presence and a beautiful voice, and her “Climb Every Mountain” is a genuine highlight. Tim Glisson captures the essence of Captain Von Trapp – regal, stubborn and in the end a caring father with love and pride for country.
Ammiel Blinsmon conveys the main character Maria’s charm and naivety perfectly. Blinsmon’s Maria has nice chemistry with the cast of Von Trapp children (Krystin Rauma, Donald Olsen, Rebecca Hannett, Jacob Rajacich, Sydney Schultis, Paris Schultis, and the youngest Venice Schultis). Their collaboration is perfection. During the number “Do-Re-Mi”, the children stand side-by-side as Maria randomly cues each of them to sing a different musical note like a street performer playing water glasses.
Speaking of the young cast members – I think one of the appeals of seeing a show like The Sound of Music live is largely due to the seven characters all under the age of 16. They are a talented cast of children who perform with professionalism and precision. They played and sang with full abandon and were completely in the moment.
Rounding out the lead cast were Nicole Rajacich and Dave Mancha as Baroness Elsa Schraeder and Max Detweiler, respectively. Rajacich is pristine and proper as the Baroness and not over the top. Mancha’s lovable and sometimes pleasantly conniving “Uncle Max” partnered beautifully with Rajacich.
All of the cast in this production deserve praise: from the messenger boy Rolf, featuring the talented Keith Glisson, to housekeeper Frau Schmidt, Sarita Fowler, and Tim Ekstrand as Franz the butler who develops a slightly menacing quality later in the show as he sympathizes with the Nazis.
One can’t forget the comedic performance of the 3 lead nuns: Sister Berthe, played by Joyce Buckhave, Sister Margaretta, played by Janelle Smith, and Sister Sophia played by Kelsey Delatore.
One aspect of the production that really stood out was the quality of the music. There is no live orchestra, but you could never tell by the melodies coming from the speakers. It was so clear and crisp that I was looking around to see where they had stashed the live musicians.
Producer Tom Hannett explained, “Our vision is to provide high quality entertainment and really focus on the music. That’s one of the things we want to be known for is the musicality of our shows. We spare no expense when it comes to the music.”
The costumes and sets are well done. Producer Danny Thorn told me that the costumes for the Nazi officers were exact replicas of the uniforms worn by SS Officers, and in fact were made from the actual wool that Hitler stock piled during the war.
Overall the talented production team of Hannett/Thorn and the entire cast and crew has created a Sound of Music that really succeeds. It’s a must see!
Located at the corner of 8th and Hesperia Road, the High Desert Center for the Arts is a great venue to enjoy a live show. “We really love this theater, it’s intimate, there’s not a bad seat in the house,” said Thorn.
The show runs Sept 10th, 12th, 16th and 17th. Tickets can be purchased at Tom’s Music, DB Music, ESR Medical Spa, and the Grumpy Golfer.
For more information e-mail:
Hannett_Thorn_Productions@yahoo.com or call 760-243-7493.
Watch a video preview of The Sound of Music here: