It’s an embarrassment of riches as Newtown Arts Company presents “The Sound of Music,” opening today at the The show runs through Dec. 11.
With a dual cast of von Trapp children and Rolf, in addition to an expansive chorus, the production is sure to fill the quaint, historic theater to the brim with song.
“We have an amazing group of women for the nuns and postulates,” said Music Director Susan den Outen. “Over 100 kids auditioned. We could have cast a dozen Liesls, they were that wonderful. So many came out who were talented. The kids have been fun to work with; they have a lot of energy.”
The trial of working with a dual cast with youngsters in a very small and old theater were overcome, den Outen said, by procedures and preparation.
“We started early enough to tackle all the challenges. Mary Liz [Ivins, director] is so organized. Our producers, Eileen Bronkovic and Nancy Pickering, work so well with the processes in place that it allows us to be creative. It’s a very well-defined organization.”
As many theater-goers in the area know, Newtown Arts Company raises funds to provide scholarship grants to local students pursuing post-secondary education in the performing or fine arts. As such, they usually include a couple of plays or musicals that feature a young cast in their offerings each year. Producers Bronkovic and Pickering have been anticipating “The Sound of Music” for some time now.
“The story of a family faced with choosing between home and freedom is artfully and beautifully told through the music and lyrics of this show,” said Pickering.
Den Outen warned that the musical is different from the movie version. “So many are familiar with the movie that the cast has to go above and beyond it to make it their own,” she added. “Everybody has their own little personality they’re adding to it.”
For instance, she warned patrons not to be disappointed if they don’t hear specific tunes included in the 1965 Richard Rogers and Oscar Hammerstein II classic. “Confidence,” for instance, is not included in this musical production. “Something Good” would normally not be included, as well, but the Newtown Arts Company purchased the rights to it separately.
Lest anyone believe there is less in the musical than in the movie. Den Outen said the character of Elsa Schraeder, the fiancée of Captain von Trapp, is more developed in the musical version than she is in the movie. She sings two additional songs.
There are challenges to producing a musical in the limited space of Newtown Theatre. With no room for a full orchestra, den Outen must make do with a few key pieces.
“With ‘The Sound of Music’ everybody knows the music, so we have to be sure to live up to it,” she said. With abundant care and practice, they are doing just that in preparation for this gala production at the height of the holiday season.
”The Sound of Music’ is a classic story that brings joy to the hearts of children, as well as adults,” Director Mary Liz Ivins said. “It’s a true story of Maria von Trapp and the captain and his children. And I think in that ring of truth there is also something that touches people’s hearts.”
Curtain times for “The Sound of Music” are tonight at 7:30 p.m.; Friday, Dec. 2 and Saturday, Dec.3 at 8 p.m.; Sunday, Dec.4 (sold out) at 3 p.m.; Tuesday, Dec. 6 and Wednesday, Dec. 7 at 7:30 p.m.; Saturday, Dec. 10 at 8 p.m. and Sunday, Dec. 11 at 3 p.m. Tickets are $20, $23 and $35.
Visit www.newtownartscompany.com, the Newtown Theatre Box Office during theater hours, or call 800-838-3006 (service fee applies). For reservations or information, call 215-860-7058.