Jess Guida ‘19 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer
The Sound of Music is one of those musicals that will always be compared to the movie version. Because of the movie’s fame, it’s difficult for any other Maria or Captain Georg von Trapp to compare to Julie Andrews and Christopher Plumber. However, Kerstin Anderson may be the closest any actress has come to comparing to Andrews. Her performance in The Sound of Music at the Boston Opera House definitely elevated the show, making it an entertaining night of theater.
While the show opened on the nuns and Mother Abbess (Melody Betts) in the abbey, it didn’t really begin until Maria’s debut during the titular song, “The Sound of Music.” Anderson’s performance was powerful enough to transport the audience back in time to 1938 Austria. She really made it feel as if the scenic hills were alive. It was clear, though, that Anderson was more than a singer. The actress brought life, wit, and a bit of quirkiness back to the character of Maria Rainer, and she succeeded in adding a fresh element in her portrayal. With a show as overdone as The Sound of Music, the fact that it didn’t seem stale is a testament to Anderson’s character work.
The distinct moment where Anderson really got to shine, though, was in her rendition of “My Favorite Things” with Betts. It was in this classic song that she demonstrated just how enchanting her voice was. She defined her Maria Rainer as enthusiastic, eloquent, and zany, carrying that persona throughout the show. It’s a shame that tours don’t have cast recordings because Anderson’s voice with this song is the kind of combination that needs to be played over and over again.
Her leading man, Captain von Trapp (Ben Davis) also attempted to stand out and distinguish himself from Plummer. Davis offered a bit of a softer Captain von Trapp, but he definitely complimented Anderson well. Their chemistry was seen mostly through “Something Good,” the love song before their wedding. He was also able to bring out the fatherly side in a very closed-off character. His interactions with the children were both heartwarming and adorable.
As for Captain von Trapp’s children, each of them brought a new element to the stage. Paige Silvester’s Liesl was both stubborn and lovable. Silvester tapped into Liesl’s youth and really brought her to life. Her love for Rolf (Dan Tracy) was, surprisingly, heartbreaking in the end. Both Tracy and Silvester were able to communicate the unpredictability of young love, something that is often overlooked in the show.
Friedrich (Jeremy Michael Lanuti) and Kurt (Quinn Erickson) brought the comedy to the von Trapp children while Marta (Mackenzie Currie) and Gretl (Audrey Bennett) won over the audience with their scene-stealing adorableness. Louisa (Maria Suzanne Knasel) offered great support to the rest of the von Trapp children, and it was clear that Brigitta (Svea Elizabeth Johnson) had done her research on the character. Johnson beautifully played the always-truthful and ever-so-smart Brigitta, adding wit to all of the scenes she was in.
Mother Abess had to sing one of the most famous songs, “Climb Ev’ry Mountain.” The range and power required for this song is enough to make or break any actress placed in this role, but Betts held her own and delivered a very respectable performance. Although she seemed to lack some of the range required to completely pull it off, Betts made up for it by making the song a little bit more her own.
Two more standout performances came from Elsa Schraeder (Teri Hansen) and Max Detweiler (Merwin Foard). These two were a match made in heaven which became clear through both of their musical numbers “How Can Love Survive” and “No Way to Stop It.” They definitely played up the friendship between Elsa and Max, and this allowed audiences to completely embrace the chemistry and shorthand between Hansen and Foard.
Individually, Hansen played Elsa Schraeder as uppity and a character that knows what she wants. She completely embraced Elsa as Maria’s foil, and everything from her walk to her voice fit the rich and successful persona. Max brought a lot of the comedy and one-liners to the show, and Foard had no issue making the audience laugh.
What acted as another character in this production was the set. Although it was not very complex, the simplistic feel given to the abbey and the von Trapp house allowed the audience to feel right at home. Douglas W. Schmidt, the set designer, gave a beautiful take on the von Trapp home, and he utilized beautiful colors for the scenic views and the mountains. The fact that the sets were not always changing allowed the audience member to focus on the production. Shifting from inside to out or the mountains to the abbey was seamless.
A nod must also be given to Jane Greenwood, the costume designer for the production. The Sound of Music isn’t exactly the show to explore different and crazy costumes, so it was nice to see that Greenwood didn’t even try to make it something it wasn’t. The characters wore very fitting outfits. Maria’s were more simplistic while Elsa’s were a little more detailed and elegant. Greenwood expertly fit the costumes to their respective characters.
For a show that has been done time and time again, it would be easy for a production of The Sound of Music to fall through the cracks and blend in with all of the others. This specific production, though, should not be allowed to do so. The acting was superb for all of those involved, even the children, and the singing was perfect. There weren’t any noticeable missteps in regards to the musical numbers.
However, if not for anything else, this production should be remembered for Kerstin Anderson’s amazing work as Maria Rainer. Anderson may have just finished up her sophomore year at Pace University, but it’s clear that she will have big things ahead of her. She really did bring The Sound of Music to life once more, and she will be surely be taking audiences by storm throughout the rest of this show’s run and in many to follow.