So . . . the printed program for PCPA’s current production of The Sound of Music should feature a stern warning (for both parents and children): afterwards, for days—nay, weeks—you will be haunted by beguiling but insidious earworms: the lovely strains of a perfectly cast Maria (Emily Trask) singing “My Favorite Things,” or the lilting voice of the precocious Liesl (Sierra Anastasi) trilling “Sixteen Going on Seventeen,” or the stirring rendition of the Mother Abbess intoning “Climb Every Mountain” (beautifully sung by Lexi Rhoades, like Trask one of the company’s professional members of Actors’ Equity Association).
No need here to relay the story of this storied Tony- and Academy Award-winning musical of stage and screen. If by some miracle you’ve never experienced it, the best advice is to book your tickets immediately to see PCPA’s version, which features more than two dozen cast members—including seven of the most capable actors this side of the movie: the members of the von Trapp brood. They are led by the aforementioned Anastasi, a 2022 graduate of the troupe’s actor training program and quite an accomplished dancer and singer—obviously ready for the big time.
The other six include a confident Nicolas Lo as Friedrich; first-timer (but you’d never know it) Kiera McGehee as Marta; six-year-old stand-out Camila Papincak as Gretle; and three children from the obviously-talented Robertson family: Sophia, Joss, and Alex as Louisa, Brigitta, and Kurt (with kids like these, Mom and Dad should think about getting into the business).
There’s nothing sweeter than when the seven harmonize together on “So Long, Farewell,” except perhaps when a delightful and delighted Kurt surrenders Maria during a dance lesson to his father, Captain von Trapp (an officious George Walker, who ultimately and believably melts into Trask’s harmonious orbit).
The rest of the admirable cast in this oft-told tale is well-supported by PCPA’s excellent behind-the-scenes family. It’s refreshing to find Kitty Balay expanding her credits in the director’s chair. This show is an ovation to her 30-plus years of PCPA acting experience, proving she has what it takes to lead a large and diverse cast and crew in a successful and audience-pleasing run.
Kudos as well to costume designer Sara Curran Ice, who captures the time and place while also making curtains into believable costumes, and lighting designer Cody Soper, whose work here goes largely ignored because it’s realistic and so appropriate that the audience never really “sees” it. Stage manager Rebekah Carriere and crew have their hands full every performance with the movement of large scenic pieces, well-designed by Jason Bolen to transform the von Trapp home into a convent, then a music hall and more. The audience is forgiving during the time it takes for these scene changes, mostly due to carefully-worked-out stage business diverting their attention.
The stage is set with swirls of gold, backed by the green hills of the title song, romantically reflecting the aura of a fairy-tale that The Sound of Music has become, as does Elisabeth Weidner’s sound design, especially in the tolling bells of the convent amid the chanting of the candle-bearing nuns.
If you haven’t seen the movie or the live show, PCPA’s production is a must-see. Even if you’ve seen it many times over, experiencing The Sound of Music through the fresh eyes of the PCPA family is guaranteed to warm your heart. Bring your family and yes, your eyes and ears—after all, what’s really so bad going about your daily routine humming “Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens . . .”?
The Sound of Music plays now through July 31 at PCPA’s Marian Theatre in Santa Maria. More Information.