Coeur d’Alene Summer Theatre’s current production of the “The Sound of Music,” directed by Kirk Mouser, delightfully captures the charm of one of the most treasured musicals of American theater.
Steven Dahlke triumphantly directs the 19-piece orchestra in translating Rodgers and Hammerstein’s signature repertoire of arias, enchanting waltzes and whimsical folk music.
Bearing more of a likeness to Doris Day than Julie Andrews, Jessica Skerrit-Stokinger exudes the joyful and rambunctious essence of Maria Rainer. The high-octane soprano glimmers in her opening solo, radiating visual images of verdant rolling hills, fresh open air and pristine skies.
Dane Stokinger gives a commendable performance as the reserved Captain Georg von Trapp. His deep baritone rendition of “Edelweiss” is a calming lullaby, and he is able to draw humor from the character’s notoriously contained personality. Blank-faced, he ho-humly proclaims, “I’m very happy,” when he informs the children of his plans to marry the refined baroness, Elsa Schraeder (Krista Kubicek).
The chemistry between Maria and Captain von Trapp is natural, given the simple fact that Skerrit-Stokinger and Stokinger are married.
Skerrit-Stokinger’s and the von Trapp children’s collaboration is perfection. The actors (Joy Martin, Shawn Hunt, Kelly Condon, Dane Wurmlinger, Cailin Spencer, Bridget Erb and Sophia Anderson) precisely deliver Hammerstein’s highly alliterative lyrics (“blue satin sashes … raindrops on roses …”) in “My Favorite Things” and render a dynamic version of “Do-Re-Mi.” During the number, the children stand side-by-side as Maria randomly cues each of them to sing a different musical note like a street performer playing water glasses.
There are also many standout performances from the supporting cast. These include Michael Milkanin (Rolf Gruber) in “Sixteen Going on Seventeen,” Patrick Treadway as the gimmicky Max Detweiler and the ethereal voices of the nun ensemble including the Coeur d’Alene Sweet Adelines. In “Climb Ev’ry Mountain,” Julie Powell (Mother Abbess) carries the last note to an escalating crescendo that seems to lift you from your seat.
Other notable aspects of the show include Maria and Captain von Trapp’s wedding in the cathedral – set designer Cameron Anderson skillfully replicates a grand golden organ and an eye-catching, kaleidoscope-like stained-glass window; and the “Finale Ultimo,” when the nuns bid adieu, in the form of airy canticles, to the von Trapp family as they venture out into the majestic wilderness to escape the Nazis.
While the half-arched brick pillars on the sides of the stage were a distraction and an unnecessary addition to set design, and although there was a prop malfunction during Thursday night’s performance (two of the three Nazi flags that were supposed to hang during the festival scene fell out of place), they certainly didn’t take away from the overall quality of the show.
And I would agree with common criticism pointing to the show’s un-ripened storyline and excessive sweetness. It can be overly sappy and the serious issue it attempts to address – the resistance of Nazi tyranny – only scratches at the surface. But its evocations of youthful innocence and uncanny ability to make beautiful music are what have created eternal success for the show and its 1965 multi-Academy Award-winning film version.