‘The Hills Are Alive’ for Theatre on the Bay’s 47th season opener

MARINETTE, Wis. – Theatre on the Bay has only produced “The Sound of Music” twice in its 47-year history, in 1978 and in 1994. TOB will open its 47th season by producing the Rodgers and Hammerstein classic for nine performances between July 18 and July 28.

John Thornberry will direct this production, with musical direction by Jay Jensen, and choreography by Heather Olsen. The show features some of the most beloved songs of the American musical theatre, including the title number “The Sound of Music,” “How Do You Solve a Problem like Maria,” “Do Re Mi,” “Climb Ev’ry Mountain,” “Sixteen Going on Seventeen” and “My Favorite Things.”

Set in 1938 in Salzburg, Austria, the musical is based on the true story of the von Trapp family singers, who escaped the Anschluss (the Nazi annexation of their country), emigrated to America, and settled in Vermont. Generations of the von Trapps performed world-wide for decades after the Second World War, but the original family group is the one celebrated in the musical.

The Sound of Music has a libretto written by Howard Lindsey and Russel Crouse. Composer Richard Rodgers teamed with his most well-known partner, lyricist Oscar Hammerstein II, to complete the music. (In fact, “Edelweiss,” the folk song sung by Captain von Trapp, was the last song Hammerstein wrote before his death.) The musical premiered on Broadway in 1959, and was made into a film in 1965. Robert Wise’s film version featured Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer, and is the most popular film musical in Hollywood history.

This summer’s musical features David Rickaby as Captain Georg von Trapp, a widowed Austrian naval officer. Leah LaMalfa plays Maria Rainer, a novice at Nonnberg Abbey who becomes governess to von Trapp’s seven children. Both the stage and film versions of the story changed several details of the von Trapps’ life in Austria and escape from the Nazis, including the children’s names. The seven children featured in the musical are Liesl (played by Erin Elizabeth Doll), Friedrich (Henry Benson), Louisa (Paige Mackey), Kurt (Noah Steffen), Brigitta (Abigail Duda), and Marta (Lydia LeBoeuf). The youngest child, Gretl, will be portrayed by identical twins Adelaide and Amelia Morgan. Rounding out the household, Lori Payne-Czaki and John Thornberry will play the von Trapp’s housekeeper, Frau Schmitt, and butler, Franz.

Other featured roles include von Trapp family friend Max Detwiler (Dan Kallgren) and the baroness Elsa Schrader (Brittany Welch), who plans to marry Georg. Rolf Gruber, the telegram boy who romances Liesl, will be played by Nathaniel Koenig. Patrick Mines will reprise the role of Herr Zeller, the Austrian Nazi who tries to coerce Georg into accepting a commission in Hitler’s navy. (Mines first played the role nineteen years ago, in 1994-the last time Theatre on the Bay produced The Sound of Music.) Gary L. Scholtz, Sr. portrays Admiral von Schreiber of the Third Reich. They will be accompanied by Nazi brownshirts played by Michael Arnold and Wes Beyer.

The women’s ensemble in The Sound of Music is an integral part of the show’s music, and is comprised of the group of sisters, novices and postulants who live at Nonnberg Abbey, where the real Maria lived as a novice herself before going to the von Trapp household. The Mother Abbess (Jennifer Rickaby) is assisted by Sister Berthe (Anne Garcia), Sister Margaretta (Betsy Stuck) and Sister Sophia (Annalisa Mines). Other sisters at Nonnberg Abbey are portrayed by Julie Muenster, Lori Patzke, Sharon Gottschalk and Tammy Bulin (all of whom also play other citizens of Salzburg). The novices are Marie Arnold and Jordyn Bretl. Nonnberg’s postulants are played by Livia Benson, Carly Beyer, Alyssa Carviou, Abby Comar, Katie Falk, and Cassidy Martin.

Tickets for The Sound of Music will go on sale June 15. Adult tickets will be $14, and tickets for students will be $10. Tickets can be purchased in advance at Angeli’s, or one hour before each performance at the Theatre on the Bay box office. All performances take place at the Herbert L. Williams Theatre, in the Fine Arts Building at the University of Wisconsin at Marinette.

For more information, visit the UW-Marinette web site or call (715) 735-4300 ext. 4339.