Thursday, January 20, 2011

Maltz Jupiter Theatre: The Sound Of Music (3 reviews)

The Maltz Jupiter Theatre opened its production of The Sound of Music on January 11, 2011.
Seven rambunctious children and the most irreverent nun ever to kick a habit welcome your family into theirs with The Sound of Music. The final musical written by Rodgers and Hammerstein follows the von Trapp family as they leave Austria to escape Nazi persecution. Featuring such musical favorites as My Favorite Things, Do, Re, Mi, Edelweiss, Climb Ev'ry Mountain and Sixteen Going on Seventeen, this heartwarming story is great for the entire family!
Marc Robin directed and choreographed a cast that included Catherine Walker, Michael Sharon, April Woodall, Elisa Van Duyne, Randall Frizado, Riley Anthony, Colleen Broome, Skye A. Friedman, Jose Kropp, Emily E. Rynasko, Molli Sramowicz and Jenny Piersol.

Bill Hirschman reviewed for South Florida Theater Review:
The Maltz Jupiter Theatre's production of The Sound of Music may have a few flaws, but cloying schmaltz isn't one of them.

Instead, the classic gets a musically resplendent production that respects the difference between genuine sentiment and manipulative sentimentality.
...Catherine Walker repays the creators with a voice that trills without seeming artificial and trumpets without sounding brassy.
For half of the first act, there's serious cause to worry. Robin directed the actors to an overbroad musical comedy style that maximizes the laughs and undercuts the human element. Several characters mimed every action they sang about until you wished the stage manager had issued handcuffs.
But when Maria pleads for the Captain to show affection to his children and the kids' singing tears away their father's barnacled defenses, the show finally finds the emotional core it lacked for a half-hour, with hardly a dry eye in the house. From that pivot point on, this becomes the touching evening it was meant to be.
...this edition's real strength is the musical performances... strong singers backed by a skilled ten-piece pit band whose two synthesizers sound like a full orchestra. Robin and McAllister also encouraged their cast to ignore conventional phrasing and rounded tones to get at the underlying emotion.
Most of the adult cast is from out of town, in part because this is a co-production with the Fulton Theatre in Pennsylvania where Robin is artistic director. But most of the kids are local.
The cold truth is that there have been more moving, dramatically truthful productions, but the glorious music adeptly delivered by talented artists make this production worth the visit.
Hap Erstein reviewed for The Palm Beach Post:
...just try to maintain an air of cynicism about the show currently at the Maltz Jupiter Theatre, a lavish, dramatic co-production with Lancaster, Pa.'s Fulton Theatre. That attitude will not last long. If you are not disarmed by the opening image of ornate abbey grillwork in front of a forced-perspective vaulted ceiling, you will sure be won over a few minutes later when Catherine Walker lifts her gorgeous voice in the Salzburg hills to sing the infectious title song.
...director-choreographer Marc Robin (who helmed the Maltz's Evita) keeps delivering the goods, reaching past the saccharine aftertaste of the Oscar-winning movie version and persuading his cast to play the material for the high stakes that always were implied. No, this is not a revelatory staging of the sort that Carousel or South Pacific have received on Broadway in recent years, but be ready to be swept away by an emotional impact that you never expected this show to have.
...all of the score's riches are here and sung beautifully, from the adorable earworm Do-Re-Mi performed by Walker and the youngsters, to the Captain's (Michael Sharon) affecting ballad Edelweiss to the clarion anthem Climb Ev'ry Mountain, boomed out by Mother Abbess April Woodall.

It is Walker's performance that cements the production, getting under our skin, even tapping into a few tear ducts, without letting the proceedings slip into mawkishness.
John Lariviere reviewed for Talkin' Broadway:
The Maltz Jupiter Theatre is indeed "blessed with the sound of music." They have found a perfect Maria, a talented cast of children who perform with professionalism and precision, an ensemble of actresses playing nuns whose vocal skills would be coveted by many a musical director, beautifully played music, and picturesque scenic design.
The gloriously sung "Preludium" in the opening scene at the Abbey sets the bar for this production. The pieces sung by the Maltz cast of Nuns, such as this and "Confitemini Domino," are welcome musical moments done to near perfection. Catherine Walker... has an honest quality in her take on the role that is without the cloying sweetness with which it is sometimes played, and has nice chemistry withthe cast of Von Trapp children.
Michael Sharon captures the sternness of Captain Von Trapp and perhaps the loneliness of which his cool nature is born. He remains stern a bit too long, however, and overacts through much of the show.
Michael Shultz as Rolf and as Jenny Piersol as Liesl share an endearing, well directed scene in "Sixteen Going On Seventeen." Her singing voice is oddly the only pop sounding one in the show.
The Sound of Music plays at the Maltz Jupiter Theatre through January 30, 2011.

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