‘The Sound of Music’ returns to SHS; cast list released and preparations underway

March 26, 2019 — by Anishi Patel and Oliver Ye

Drama students prepare for the 2019 spring musical, which will premiere on April 26.

Preparations for the spring musical, “The Sound of Music,” are underway after auditions concluded in late January.

“The Sound of Music” is based on the life story of the Von Trapp family, a famous concert group during the interlude between the two world wars. Maria, their governess, brings joy to the family through song in their Austrian home. As the musical progresses, Maria and Captain Von Trapp fall in love, but the coming of World War II throws a wrench in their romance.

The leading role of Maria Rainer will be played by junior Marly Feigin, Captain Von Trapp by senior Shasta Ganti, and the various Von Trapp children by senior Taylor Hill, juniors Natalie Tjahjadi and Eman Ahmad and sophomores Lauren Tan, Francesca Fernandes, Stephen Ludwig and Chris Linney.

The school last put on “The Sound of Music” in 2002, and this year, drama teacher Sarah Thermond and orchestra teacher Andrew Ford felt that students should once again have the chance to work with the style and historical time period offered by the classic Rodgers and Hammerstein production.

“‘The Sound of Music’ has the advantage of being beloved and family-friendly, while still dealing with some extremely difficult topics,” Thermond said, referencing the rise of Nazism and the Third Reich in Germany. The drama program interested a large audience with the family-friendly “Mary Poppins” musical last year, and Thermond is seeking the same kind of success with “The Sound of Music.”

“While we didn't want to lose families [who enjoyed “Mary Poppins”] by doing something too dark or risque, we did want to give our actors a chance to work on something with a little more socio-political weight to it,” Thermond said.

Ganti, who recently directed his own student production, is excited to play a character that is experiencing political upheaval — Captain Von Trapp loves his country, Austria, even as it comes under Nazi control.

Ganti sees “The Sound of Music” as resonating with modern American struggles such as  the limits of patriotism, racism and fascism.

“If audiences take away anything from my performance, it’s that it is still possible to love your country, despite standing against the wrongs that people in charge have committed,” Ganti said.

The musical’s historical complexity and prevalent themes come with complications, though. “The Sound of Music” has minimal scenes or songs with fewer than eight actors onstage, meaning scheduling for the entire cast has become a challenge.

Student actors must also portray a wide range of ages and sing in different languages, which will make costuming and learning lines more difficult.

Junior Ritika Kuppam, who will be playing a nun, said singing in Latin is difficult because she doesn’t know the words. “For now, the strategy I’m using is associating Latin sounds with note pitches, and that’s been working well so far,” she said.

Additionally, most of the songs in the show are diegetic, meaning the characters refer to each other while singing. According to Thermond, this means the musical numbers will require a high level of realism.

“The Sound of Music” will premiere at the McAfee Center on April 26 and 27 at 7:30 p.m., April 28 at 2 p.m. and May 3 and 4 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets will go on sale beginning April 2.

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