By Julianne Mosher
The stage at the John W. Engeman Theater in Northport turns into 1930s Austria with its latest production of The Sound of Music and it will have everyone in the audience feel all the emotions.
Based on the real Von Trapp family, and the real events they endured when the Nazi’s invaded their hometown of Austria at the start of World War II, the cast and crew of the latest local production does the original Tony Award-winning show justice with a fantastic lineup of talented actors.
Directed by Drew Humphrey, the show starts off with the Nuns of Nonnberg Abbey ensemble who sing a haunting, and beautiful Preludium hymm with a stellar performance by Cáitlin Burke who plays the Mother Abbess. The set quickly changes from the church courthouse to the rolling blue and purple hills, where our favorite nun-turned-nanny, Maria Rainer (played by Kayleen Seidl), sings the famous classic, “The Sound of Music.”
Made famous by the Oscar-winning 1965 remake of the original Broadway show that starred Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer, the audience follows the curious and rebellious Maria as she leaves the Abbey to help a widowed father take care of his seven children. In the Von Trapp home, Maria teaches Louisa, Kurt, Liesl, Friedrich, Brigitta, Marta and little Gretl “My Favorite Things” and “Do-Re-Mi,” which had the audience singing along in their seats.
Seidl’s performance of Maria made the audience fall in love with her just as Naval Captain Georg Von Trapp (played by Tim Rogan) and his children eventually do throughout the show. But what also received a standing ovation during last Friday’s show was the performance of those children who rehearsed for weeks after school and their extra curriculars to share the spotlight with some of the most talented actors the industry has to offer. Of that performance, Kayla Kennedy (Brigitta), Laura Park (the mature and almost-17-Liesl), and Micaela Maio, who played little Gretl, were standout stars.
Choreographed by Mandy Modic, the musical number of “Sixteen Going on Seventeen” featuring Park and her Rolf Gruber (played by understudy Max Desantis) was playful and impressive using props from the villa’s courtyard to assist them dance around during their flirtatious banter. The set design was able to quickly change with ease, turning from a church, to the mountains, to the Von Trapp living room and bedrooms, to the outside courtyard where the two teenagers would sneak out to.
And we cannot forget other members of the cast, like Matthew Bryan Feld (Max Detweiler) and Angel Reda (as Elsa Schraeder) who were also lovable … even if they didn’t agree with the captain’s politics and played more selfish parts. Reda, who alone has a long resume of national and regional shows, just finished her latest stint with Chicago on Broadway.
While The Sound of Music may not be the happiest of stories, the cast and crew at the Engeman Theater does the show right with a fantastic lineup to match an amazing score that is fit for anyone, any age, or whether they are 16 going on 17.
The John W. Engeman Theater, 250 Main St., Northport presents The Sound of Music through July 2. Shows are at 8 p.m. on Thursdays and Fridays, 3 p.m. and 8 p.m. on Saturdays, and 2 p.m. on Sundays. Tickets are $85 for Saturday performances and $80 for all others showings, and can be purchased by calling 631-261-2900 or online at www.engemantheater.com.