‘The Sound of Music’ proves nostalgic and heartfelt

April 29, 2019 — by Marisa Kingsley and Jessica Wang

Audiences offered praise for the the drama department’s production of Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein’s “The Sound of Music,” which opened on April 26, with two additional shows over the weekend on April 27 and 28 and two shows on May 3 and 4.  

The classic musical turned out to be a popular one, as about 850 audience members came to opening weekend, with many commending junior Marly Feign’s performance as the lead Maria Rainer and the overall vocal performance of the cast.

“The production was very well cast,” said junior Ashvin Maheshwar, who attended opening night. “There were areas of improvement like the acting and possibly the dancing, but the singing was on point.”

The musical, based on the true story told in the book “The Story of the Trapp Family Singers” by Maria von Trapp, follows Maria Rainer, a free-spirited postulant in Nonnberg Abbey, as she leaves the abbey and is hired as a governess to the seven children of ex-naval Captain Georg von Trapp. After meeting the strictly disciplined von Trapp family, Maria introduces music into their lives and the children rekindle their close-knit relationship with their father. Maria eventually marries Captain von Trapp and connects the family through singing.

Feign described her role as “very vocally demanding and tiring” since Maria sings a large number of the songs such as “I Have Confidence,” “The Sound of Music” and “The Lonely Goatherd.” However, Feign also notes that Maria’s understanding and compassionate nature has been rewarding as well.

“Her personality inspires me to make myself better and look at life from a different perspective,” Feign said.

Themes of love and family were portrayed alongside the darker historical references of the Nazi takeover of Austria in 1938, seen in the conflicting sentiments from Georg von Trapp and his staff and neighbors.

Senior Shasta Ganti, in his role as Georg von Trapp, portrayed the captain’s opposition to Nazism with an unwavering dedication to Austria, later emphasized by his solo performance of “Edelweiss” in the second act for a final farewell and an expression of loyalty towards his homeland.

While the hard work and dedication of the cast paid off in a great opening weekend, Feign believes that there are still some aspects of the show to make smoother such as set changes and more awareness from the cast during costume changes backstage.  

As for any theatrical production goes, the technical elements are essential for its success.

Director Sarah Thermond credits the technical team behind the production for troubleshooting any timing or microphone problems during the show.

“In live theater, that’s the best you can do,” Thermond said.

Despite this, the actors were able to combat technical issues by projecting their voices to make the transitions as seamless as possible.

While the production centers around the von Trapp family, the background ensemble of nuns, townspeople and various other characters play a key role in the show as well.

The ensemble, mostly played by nuns, sang in Latin in the opening “Dixit Dominus” and “Gaudeamus Domino,” which is sung at Maria and Captain von Trapp’s wedding, complementing the usually cheerful numbers performed in the rest of the production by Maria and the von Trapp children.

Maheshwar additionally complimented the incorporation of ensemble members within the audience, providing a feeling of “the sound of music being all around us,” he said.

The classic, sing-a-long music brought back nostalgic childhood memories for many through the recognizable tunes and lyrics of numbers such as “My Favorite Things,” “Do-Re-Mi” and “So Long, Farewell.” “The Sound of Music” is advertised as a family-friendly production: older audience members who understand the historical context behind the show will find deeper implications under the joyful facade of the music while younger audiences can relate to the troubles of the von Trapp children.

Tonight’s performance will be at 7:30 p.m. at the McAfee Center, with its final performance tomorrow also at 7:30 p.m.

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At UC Berkeley, PhD student Abrar Abidi and research assistant Yvonne Hao have embarked on a goal of creating hand sanitizer for the Bay Area's most vulnerable populations, including the homeless and the incarcerated. Their hand sanitizer includes glycerol mixed with other products, in accordance with a formula from the World Health Organization. So far, they are producing 120 hundreds of gallons of sanitizer each week. Photo courtesy of Roxanne Makasdjian with UC Berkeley.


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