A parent’s review: 'The Sound of Music' at the 5th Avenue Theatre
Photo: Tracy Martin
Characters that move you, a story that warms you, and music that fills you: The Sound of Music at the 5th Avenue Theatre has it all. The show’s broad appeal makes it a perfect fit for a special family outing. While not a traditional holiday story, it is a story that brings the family together and that’s what holidays are all about.
Maria is without a doubt one of the best protagonists to set foot on stage. The audience cheers for her, laughs with her, and ultimately triumphs with her. I think children can especially identify with Maria because she is so real and not a perfect ideal. She makes mistakes, she doesn’t always follow the rules, and sometimes she doesn’t know what to do. Even the sisters at the abbey must finally admit that the very things that drive them crazy about Maria are also the things that make them love her. Kids can spend a great deal of time trying to fit the molds. Maria tells them that it’s ok to be yourself, and that’s a powerful message.
The production at the 5th Avenue brings the classic story to life. The Sound of Music, as most people know it in film form, is quite long and full of changing and elaborate settings. The 5th Avenue has excelled in transforming the show to the stage in a very thoughtful and breathtaking manner. While some scenes from the movie were cut, they managed to find new ways of incorporating the songs. So while you won’t see a bunch of goat and goat herder marionettes, you will still get to enjoy the song. The show also includes one song not in the movie that allows Elsa Schraeder, so keenly portrayed by Jessica Skerritt, a moment to shine.
My daughter, who could probably recite the entire movie from memory, was able to roll with the changes pretty well. It probably helped that she knew to expect something a little different. From reading the program, she already knew that the song My Favorite Things would be sung by Maria and the Mother Abbess instead of Maria and the children. If your child is not a friend of change, perhaps a few words of warning are in order. However, my daughter was thrilled with one of the changes in the show. Rolf does not blow the whistle on the hiding Von Trapps but covers for them. She said, “Rolf may still have been a Nazi, but at least he wasn’t a rat.”
From the very first note, the cast of The Sound of Music will sing and dance their way into you heart. Preludium sung by the nuns of the abbey is nothing short of spectacular. Kirsten deLohr Helland brings a freshness and vitality to the role of Maria. For me, Victoria Ames Smith was also a stand out in her performance as Louisa. The entire audience seemed smitten with Kendall Bonham as Gretl. And Mark Jeffrey James Weber as Friedrich out sang many of the adults. I would be amiss if I didn’t give a shout out to Phillip Lienau as Scenic Coordinator. His work brought Nonnberg Abbey, The Von Trapp Villa, and the beauty of Austria to life on stage.
The music of the show provides an instant connection to anyone familiar with the songs. However, a few plot points might be confusing for little ones. While it’s not necessary to divulge too much information about the Nazis, it does help for kids to understand how the Nazis were expanding and some people like the Austrian Von Trapps did not like it. Additionally, the term postulate is used repeatedly to refer to a new women coming into the abbey. From my seat, I witnessed two children ask a parent about this term. While you’re at it, it wouldn’t hurt to google a picture of edelweiss to show the kids as that song makes a lot more sense when you know it’s a flower that grows in Austria.
The Sound of Music has all the makings of a wonderful holiday experience for the whole family. The only thing missing is a wide selection of seating for many shows. So don’t wait too long to reserve your family’s spot for a magical, heart-warming show.
Now – Jan. 3rd, show times vary from 6:00pm – 8:00pm for evening shows and 1:30 or 2:00pm for matinees. $29 - $132, depending on seat selection and date and time of performance. email@example.com or 5thavenue.org
Kelly Rogers Flynt is a freelance writer based out of Lake Forest Park and the mother of two kids ages fourteen and eleven who constantly fill their home with the sound of music.