? 'The Sound of Music' opens tonight

By Thomas Long

pop writer

The Sooner Stage presentation of "The Sound of Music" is a monumental achievement. There are more than 70 cast members and 30 on the production staff. Music and choral director Kevin Smith leads the cast and instrumentalists flawlessly.

The imaginative direction of Lisa Fox Adams is exceptionally creative. Her staging logistics, choreography and detailed stage business give the show freshness. The innovation of a nun's chorus and a children's chorus adds an extra dimension to the play's enjoyment.

From the preludium, sung by the stunning nun's chorus of a marvelous blend of voices, to the finale ultimo, sung and performed by the entire cast, the show sweeps us along.

The ebullient and gifted Gina Taylor expertly plays the postulant Maria. Taylor fashions her own magic with a clear, vibrant voice and a stage presence rivaling the most seasoned professionals.?Her vocal performance is especially effective in scenes with the seven children of Captain Von Trapp, including "Do-Re-Mi," "My Favorite Things" and the title song.

The children, ranging from ages 5-16, are a delight.?Jillian Bumpas, the maturing Liesl, is outstanding as an actress and an accomplished singer. In the number, "Sixteen Going on Seventeen," she and Skyler Adams, playing her German boyfriend Rolf, charm each other and us.

Steven Ibach, Grace Anne Marcum, Wade Newville, Adrian Bumpas, Caitlin Rose Dyke and the sweet Miranda Moser complete the family ensemble and compose the centerpiece for the production.

The retired naval officer and strict father, Von Trapp is played appropriately with resolute seriousness and military demeanor by handsome Jos Raadscheld- ers.?Katherine Vittitow and Thor Henson add significant drama to the story as the Captain's fianc?e and friend, respectively.

For many, the towering performance of Sandra Gall as the Mother Abbess will own the most profound and affecting moments.?Her absolute thrilling and resonating rendition of "Climb Ev'ry Mountain" is matchless. In the final moments of the First Act, Gall, the lovely scenery and the lighting combine for an unforgettable experience.

"The Sound of Music" surely befits the majesty of the Sooner Theatre.?This may be the most ambitious production by local talent ever viewed in the sturdy, old entertainment palace.?See it, and carry a moonbeam home in your hand.

"The Sound of Music" runs 8 p.m. tonight through Sept. 17 with a matinee performance 2 p.m.?Sunday at Sooner Theatre, 101 E. Main St. Plan ahead to be enchanted by the storied Rodgers and Hammerstein entertainment.

For more information or tickets, call 321-9600 or visit www.soonertheater.com.

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