Windsor Light Music Theatre’s production of “The Sound of Music” for their 75th anniversary season is a vibrant tapestry of music, emotion, and nostalgia. Staged from November 17th to 26th, the show is a heartwarming journey through one of musical theatre’s most cherished stories.
The story, set in Austria on the brink of World War II, is a timeless tale that intertwines the themes of love, family, and resilience against the backdrop of political upheaval. The story follows Maria Rainer, a free-spirited young woman who leaves an abbey to become a governess for the seven children of the widowed Captain Georg von Trapp. Maria brings music and joy back into the family’s home, deeply impacting each member of the von Trapp household. Her arrival marks a turning point, especially for the Captain, who has been distant and strict following his wife’s passing. As Maria introduces the children to the wonders of music and the joys of play, she not only transforms the family dynamics but also finds her own place in the world.
The narrative evolves as Maria and the Captain fall in love, amidst the growing tensions of Nazi-occupied Austria. The impending threat of the annexation of Austria by Nazi Germany looms over the family’s newfound happiness, bringing a sense of urgency and drama to the story. The family’s decision to flee Austria, risking everything to escape the oppressive regime, is a testament to their courage and the strength of their bond. The von Trapp family’s journey from the comforts of their grand home to their perilous escape over the mountains is both heart-wrenching and inspiring. This timeless story, while set in a specific historical context, speaks universally about the power of love, music, and standing up for one’s beliefs in the face of adversity.
This production of “The Sound of Music” at Windsor Light Music Theatre poignantly incorporates Nazi symbolism, a stark reminder of the horrors of World War II. The appearance of swastikas and Nazi uniforms on stage is a chilling representation of the encroaching danger and oppression faced by the von Trapp family and Austria as a whole. This stark imagery is not just a historical reference but resonates deeply with contemporary issues, mirroring recent unsettling events where Nazi symbols have surfaced at protests and in public discourse around the world. Particularly relevant is the controversy in Canada over the mistaken recognition and celebration of an individual who served in a Nazi military unit, an act that inadvertently glorified a dark chapter in history. These elements in the play serve as a harrowing reminder of the atrocities committed under the Nazi regime and echo the importance of vigilance against such ideologies in today’s world. The use of these symbols in the musical becomes a powerful tool, not just in storytelling, but in reflecting on the lessons of history and the ongoing struggle against hate and intolerance.
Krystal Laframboise, in the role of Maria Rainer, embodies the spirit and charm of the beloved governess with a delightful presence and vocal prowess that resonates throughout the theatre. Her interaction with the children is particularly enchanting, creating moments of pure joy and tenderness.
Brian Yeomans as Captain Georg von Trapp delivers a performance that balances the sternness and vulnerability of his character exquisitely. His transformation from the distant father to a loving, caring parent is both believable and touching.
The portrayal of the von Trapp children is particularly noteworthy. Ruby Dauphinee’s Liesl is a blend of youthful exuberance and emerging maturity, while Easton Blackmore’s Friedrich, Morgan DeYong’s Louisa, James Fleming’s Kurt, Annelise Olivito’s Brigitta, Jingzi Zhu’s Marta, and Molly Morvay’s Gretl, each add their unique charm and energy, making every family scene a delight.
“The Sound of Music” is a musical celebrated for its unforgettable songs, and Windsor Light Music Theatre’s production certainly does justice to these iconic numbers. “Do-Re-Mi,” led by Krystal Laframboise’s Maria, is a jubilant and educational romp, effectively showcasing the chemistry between Maria and the children. The playful choreography and infectious enthusiasm make it a standout moment. “Edelweiss,” rendered with heartfelt simplicity by Brian Yeomans as Captain von Trapp, is another highlight, capturing the deep love for one’s homeland and family in its poignant melody.
“Sixteen Going on Seventeen,” featuring Ruby Dauphinee’s Liesl and Jaedyn Ellis as Rolf Gruber, is a charming portrayal of young love and naivety. The number is both sweet and bittersweet, given the context of the story. Lesley Andrew’s powerful rendition of “Climb Ev’ry Mountain” as Mother Abbess is a vocal tour de force, inspiring and moving, embodying the theme of hope and perseverance central to the musical. Her performance on its own, was worthy of the standing ovation at the end of the show.
The staging of this production is a marvel in itself, seamlessly transporting the audience from the lush, rolling hills of Austria to the grandeur of the von Trapp family home, and the solemnity of the abbey. The set design cleverly uses space and perspective to create depth, making the hills alive not just through song but through visual storytelling as well. The abbey scenes are particularly striking, with the use of lighting and architecture creating an atmosphere of reverence and tranquility. One nice touch was the old metal fence that guarded the outside of the abbey. The family home, as well, is both opulent and warm, reflecting the evolving dynamics of the von Trapp family – though a tapestry of stairs, rooms and entrance ways. Maria’s bedroom also served well as the backdrop for another song and a display of the ugliest curtains humanity has ever manufactured.
Windsor Light Music Theatre’s “The Sound of Music” is an extremely well crafted a show that captures the essence of the beloved musical while injecting fresh energy and heart into its timeless story. It’s the showstopper of the year.
Three more performances remain this Friday through Sunday (Nov. 24-26). Tickets are available at Windsor’s Chrysler Theatre.
The Sound of Music Cast:
- Maria Rainer: Krystal Laframboise
- Captain Georg von Trapp: Brian Yeomans
- Liesl von Trapp: Ruby Dauphinee
- Friedrich von Trapp: Easton Blackmore
- Louisa von Trapp: Morgan DeYong
- Kurt von Trapp: James Fleming
- Brigitta von Trapp: Annelise Olivito
- Marta von Trapp: Jingzi Zhu
- Gretl von Trapp: Molly Morvay
- Mother Abbess: Lesley Andrew
- Elsa Schraeder: Dayna Cornwall
- Max Detweiler: Mario Caschera
- Sister Berthe: Cecilia Calongcagong
- Sister Margaretta: Lindsay Longpre
- Sister Sophia: Courtney Scratch
- Rolf Gruber: Jaedyn Ellis
- Franz: Andy Carscadden
- Frau Schmidt: Erin Iverson
- Herr Zeller: Jim Reid
- Ursula: Frin Polachok
- Baron Elberfeld: Gerry Turmel
- Baroness Elberfeld: Marlene Moore
- Frau Zeller: Lisa Citron
- A New Postulant: Emma Osley
- Admiral Von Schreiber: Jeffrey Gartshore
- Saengerbund of Herwegen Trio: Bev Marshall, Sheena Strickland, Lauren DeYong
- Fraulein Schweiger: Randee Mayrand
Steven Carver, Lisa Citron, Lauren DeYong, Athena Dunlop, Meredith Garswood, Jeffrey Gartshore, Maria Harman, Melody Hearn, Amanda Jordan, Kristi Jasey, Trish Kenny, Kara Kootstra, Lisa Leboeuf, Bev Marshall, Randee Mayrand, Marlene Moore, Mario Muscedere, Emma Osley, Erin Polachok, Micheal Roy, Sophia Sladic, Sheena Strickland, Gerry Turmel, Rod Turton, Jacqueline Verellen, Aubrey Zerbin.
Margaret Aitchison, Pat Busteed, Linda Dalley, Starr Diesbourg, Pattie DiMaggio, Jacquelyn Jasey, Chantel Kuli, Cassandra McQueen, Kathleen Paterson, Jennifer Palmer, Carol Pretli, Jennifer Santin, Catharine Shanahan, Ruthie Waltman, Irene Wood.