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Wednesday, January 6, 2016

The Phil is alive with “The Sound of Music” through Jan. 10

Posted By on Wed, Jan 6, 2016 at 2:10 PM

  • photo via Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts
The hills once again animate with the euphonious symphonies of descant as the new North American tour of The Sound of Music spins into the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts, through Jan. 10. Fans of the iconic movie musical will find this handsome production faithfully delivers all of their favorite things, with a few fresh surprises from the first-class cast.

As the Mother Abbess, Ashley Brown (Broadway’s original Mary Poppins) gives a powerhouse rendition of the anthem “Climb Every Mountain,” along with warm hugs; Ben Davis’ Capt. Georg Von Trapp has a solid singing voice and is suitably soulful in his self-righteousness; and the tykes aren’t only adorable but also talented, especially Paige Silvester as Liesl, even if her romance with budding Nazi Rolf (Dan Tracy) comes across as ridiculous.

Despite only being an undergrad, Kerstin Anderson outshines all those excellent performances as Maria, investing her with endearingly awkward goofiness that owes as much to Frozen’s Anna as to Julie Andrews; her phrasing of the title tune and other indelible standards has a refreshing naiveté that complements her tone’s un-pushed purity, providing a sense of discovery from overfamiliar lyrics.

Purists may relax; the Tony-winning director, Jack O’Brien, didn’t “reimagine” Rodgers & Hammerstein’s classic in this built-for-the-road production. If anything, it’s a little too reverent of Howard Lindsay and Russel Crouse’s old-fashioned book, whose laconic plotting and under-motivated characterizations will appear dated if you aren’t already a devotee of the Von Trapp family saga. Scenes with campy concert promoter Max Detweiler (Merwin Foard) and and Von Trapp’s erstwhile fiancée Elsa Schraeder (Teri Hansen) particularly bog the pace down. But O’Brien keeps this beloved fable flowing at a comfortable pace – thanks in large part to Douglas W. Schmidt’s elegant scenery, which smoothly slides through cinematic scene transitions – and his exceptional ensemble helps the nearly three-hour evening fly by.

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