NSMT’s ‘Sound of Music’ climbs every mountain
BEVERLY — A well-performed and sung score. A charming group of talented young people. A top-notch ensemble cast. When it comes to the theater, these are a few of my favorite things.
And, most recently, one of my favorite things is the North Shore Music Theatre’s production of the Rodgers & Hammerstein’s classic “The Sound of Music,” being performed now through Sunday night at the Beverly theater.
The season opener for Bill Hanney’s fourth season is a sparkling success, lovingly and efficiently directed by James Brennan with great attention to detail, from the first solemn notes of “Preludium” to the reprise of “Climb Ev’ry Mountain”
As an actress and singer Lisa O’Hare can — and has — held her own with any of Broadway’s leading ladies, and her Maria is radiant, a joyous character able to switch gears quickly from the pious novice nun finding her way in the world to a loving nanny to a woman in love.
David Andrew Macdonald as Captain Georg von Trapp, the stern widower and naval officer whose heart is melted by Maria, is younger and more vital than some of the other Captain von Trapps, which makes the love story between he and Maria all the more believable, and he handles the demands of the role with an easy grace.
This show is going nowhere without a talented group of young actors portraying the von Trapp children, and here Deidre Harren leads the way as Liesl, augmented by a cadre of local talent playing the younger children: 12 year old Newburyport resident Maggie Budzyna (Louisa von Trapp), 14 year old Gloucester resident Giacomo Favazza (Kurt von Trapp), 8 year old Lynnfield resident Paige Catherine Martino (Gretl von Trapp), 14 year old Reading resident Kyle Mungenast (Friedrich von Trapp), 6 year old Winthrop resident Haven Pereira (Marta von Trapp), and 12 year old South Hamilton resident Bryn Smith (Brigita von Trapp).
Suzanne Ishee is fine as the Mother Abbess, performing the goose-bump-inducing “Climb Ev’ry Mountain,“ although I also longed to hear her understudy, local favorite Leigh Barrett, a member of the ensemble, have a crack at it.
This production features an “all-star team” of nuns recruited from some of the area’s best performers, including the aforementioned Barrett, Maureen Brennan as the fun-loving Sister Margaretta, Cheryl McMahon as the sterner Sister Berte, and Ellen Peterson as a member of the ensemble.
Beverly native James Beaman provides solid support as music producer Max Detweiler and Jacquelynne Fontaine is fine as Elsa Schrader.
Medford native Kevin McGlynn does his usual fine job in a variety of roles and Mark Manley and Joy Franz also add to the fun as von Trapp’s put-upon butler and housekeeper.
Jeff Modereger’s scenic design incorporates striking mountain murals, a well-placed rock and grass out-cropping, and drop-down stained glass window to cleverly suggest the various settings.
Kudos to musical director Dale Rieling — the nonpareil score with its parade of standards including “My Favorite Things,” “Do-Re-Mi,” “The Lonely Goatherd,” etc — is gloriously performed and sung, and not a note or word are lost thanks to the precision of Charles Coes’ sound.
As NSMT owner Bill Hanney has gradually rebuilt his subscriber base after re-opening the theater four years ago, the audiences have grown. He has already added a number of shows for this production and for future productions.
He only has to clear one hurdle: “The Sound of Music” has set a high bar for the rest of the NSMT season.
The North Shore Music Theatre’s production of “The Sound of Music.“ Music by Richard Rodgers, Lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II. Book by Howard Lindsay and Russel Crouse, suggested by “The Trapp Family Singers” by Maria Augusta Trapp. by Directed by James Brennan. At the North Shore Music Theatre through June 23. Nsmt.org.