It really is all about the music,” Barksdale and Theatre IV Managing Director Phil Whiteway has said about his company's production of “The Sound of Music.” And he's absolutely correct. There are enough problems with the overall production, directed by Chase Kniffen, to keep it off this critic's list of the season's best. But the music, and anything to do with the music, is truly fantastic.
These are a few of my favorite things about this show:
Everyone sings beautifully, and Sandy Dacus' musical direction is spot-on.
Kara Charise Harman, who plays Mother Abbess, has a voice so spellbinding that I get chills during each of her songs. Her rendition of “Climb Ev'ry Mountain” is a showstopper.
Ali Thibodeau (Liesl), Eric Pastore (Friedrich) and Ellie Wilson (Gretl) are the standouts of the von Trapp children — all great singers who sound wonderful together.
Jody Ashworth's commanding Captain von Trapp and Stacy Cabaj's spritely Maria are also in fabulous singing voice. Their duet, “Something Good,” sounds as lovely as a church organ on Easter morning.
The cast sings and dances marvelously across Brian Barker's gorgeous sets with a closing vignette that makes a stunning visual statement.
Ah, but there are bee stings and dog bites:
The costumes are inconsistent for the era, particularly on actors in supporting roles. Thibodeau's make-up is garish and way out of line with her character (and the rest of the children). There are some real lighting challenges — the faces of the nuns are severely half-lighted in the scene before Maria's wedding, for example. But most disturbing is the lack of chemistry between Ashworth and Cabaj.
But really. The show is all about those classic Rodgers and Hammerstein songs, so only a snarky theater critic would care about this stuff. Bottom line: If you love the show for the sound of the music, you'll love this production.
“The Sound of Music” plays on selected dates through July 4 at the Empire Theatre. Tickets are $19-$40. Call 282-2620 or go to tickets.com.
Note: Actor Eric Pastore's name was misspelled in the print edition. Style regrets the error.