The ladies rule, in the Davis Musical Theatre Company's production of 'The Sound of Music.' The women in the cast far outshine the men in this sparkling show, which is directed by Jan Isaacson.
A company with a small house can use the entire theater in many scenes, and Isaacson does this quite well, starting with the opening Gregorian chant by the nuns of Nonnberg Abby: They file in from the back of the theater, chanting on their way down the stairs and through the audience, and finally onto the stage.
The curtains then open, to reveal postulant Maria sitting on her beloved mountain. The scenery - designed by Steve Isaacson - is lovely, and perfectly conveys a sense of the mountains.
Kate Hight is outstanding as Maria. She has a lovely voice and a fresh earnestness to her character; just watching her makes us want to smile. She's particularly good during her scenes with the von Trapp children, for whom she takes a temporary job as governess.
Marguerite Morris is wonderful as the Mother Abbess, who sends Maria to the von Trapp home, hoping she'll discover whether she has a true vocation. Morris is at her best, of course, in the signature 'Climb Every Mountain,' for which she receives a well-deserved ovation.
The delightful '(How Do You Solve a Problem like) Maria' is sung with Sister Margaretta (Eimi Stokes), Sister Berthe (Mary Young) and Sister Sophia (Laura Sitts). Stokes is particular charming, and has an irrepressible personality.
The von Trapp children are essential to the popularity of this Rodgers and Hammerstein classic, and Isaacson's experience as director of DMTC's young performers program really shows, both in her selection of seven outstanding young actors, and in her direction of the group. Individually and collectively, they're all quite good.
Liesl, who is '16 Going on 17,' is played by Moriah Haworth; she has a winning voice and beautifully expresses the joy of new love, and the heartbreak of its loss.
Kendyl Ito plays Brigitta, who seems never to have an unexpressed thought.
The others are Rami Rashmawi, as Friedrich; Jasmin Mould, as Louisa; William Chan, as Kurt; Ani Carrera, as Marta; and Rose Moylan as the adorable youngest, Gretl. The group sings well together, and down to the youngest they're all professional on stage.
Emily Cannon-Brown plays Elsa Schraeder, the woman who hopes to wed Capt. von Trapp (Giorgio Selvaggio) until she realizes that his feelings for Maria are more than that of an employer for an employee. Cannon-Brown also is a strong performer, and has a lovely voice.
Sadly, the men in the cast don't fare as well. Selvaggio has a big voice, but even the sprayed-on gray hair can't make him look old enough to have fathered seven children. He looks more like Liesl's brother than her parent. This might have been overlooked if Selvaggio appeared more comfortable on stage, but - alas - he doesn't.
Herb K. Schultz fares a little better as Max Detweiler, the opportunistic entrepreneur who is determined to befriend both Austrians and Germans as the war approaches, and to exploit whomever he can for his own good. Schultz is OK but not outstanding.
As Rolf, the young man who delivers telegrams and steals Liesl's heart, Matthew Kohrt is the best of the male actors; sadly, his role is small.
This is one of the better-looking DMTC shows, with each scene clearly demonstrating the work that went into it. This show's dedication to quality also is revealed by the size of the orchestra, with 18 musicians listed in the program. That's more than I remember seeing for any previous DMTC show.
Jeanne Henderson's costumes are wonderful, and the wedding dress for Maria is a knockout, with a train that covers half the length of the stairs, as she descends through the audience on her way to the stage. (This dress was a donation to DMTC many years ago.)
Despite a few shortcomings, this 'Sound of Music' is well worth the price of admission. Hight's performance as Maria is worth the price of admission; after including all the other good things about this production, it definitely won't disappoint DMTC's fans.