It is a story no history book could do justice to. It is a story you have to see and hear to believe. It is the incredible true story immortalized by Rodgers and Hammerstein in The Sound of Music, and the halls were alive with it this past weekend at Chestnut Hill Academy.
The Sound of Music premiered on Broadway in 1959 for a Tony Award winning run, and six years later, the screen version garnered an Academy Award and became an instant classic. The World War II era story follows nun-in-training Maria Reiner (Natalie Smith), a free-spirit who is sent to be governess to the seven children of Captain Georg von Trapp (Alex Yang), a stern widower, whose beloved country is on the brink of Nazi occupation. However, as Austria is changing for the worse, so is Maria changing this family for the better.
Chestnut Hill Academy's production of this timeless tale was anchored by convincing leads, and an ensemble whose voices and personalities blended well.
Natalie Smith perfectly captured the enthusiasm and flightiness of Maria and, when a fellow nun sings "How do you catch a cloud and pin it down?" in reference to Maria, this perfectly describes the character as portrayed by Smith. Her interactions with the children were genuine and sweet. Alex Yang made a nice transition from the strict navy Captain von Trapp to loving father and husband. Both he and Smith nicely showed the initial tension in their characters' relationship melting away into affection.
As the Captain's almost-wife, Elsa Schraeder, Zoe Greenberg gave a multifaceted performance, displaying both shrewdness and the underlying compassion that allows her to graciously forfeit her claim on the Captain. Chris Blake delivered the witty lines of Max Detweiller with charm.
The sets by Julie Stepanuk and Charlie Frank were realistic and wonderful backdrops for both the abbey and the von Trapp family home. Equally impressive were the costumes and makeup by Hilary McDonnell and Shelby Green, which were all period-appropriate and, like the children's sailor suits, true to both the stage and screen versions of The Sound of Music people are familiar with.