FHS students set to perform ‘The Sound of Music’

By: Jeremy Selweski | Woodward Talk | Published March 13, 2013


FERNDALE — The Ferndale High School auditorium will be alive with “The Sound of Music” this month, when FHS theatre students will bring the classic Broadway musical to the stage.

The school will host five performances of the show over the next two weekends, as well as a senior citizen reception in the FHS media center. According to Judy Donlin, producer of the show, FHS’ production of “The Sound of Music” will feature a cast of about 45 students in grades three through 12, as well as 25 more students in the crew and 25 members of the FHS orchestra providing the music.

Donlin believes that the time was right for the school to tackle one of Broadway’s most beloved musicals.

“We felt like this would be a great opportunity to showcase all the amazing voices that we have in our group, and also to get some of the younger children more involved in one of our shows,” she said. “A lot of our kids didn’t even know this play before we started rehearsing, because it’s not quite as prominent today as it was in the ’60s and ’70s.”

“The Sound of Music” was Richard Rodgers’ and Oscar Hammerstein’s final collaboration as a songwriting team. The original stage production opened on Broadway in November 1959, while the film adaptation starring Julie Andrews was released in March 1965. Many of the songs from both versions are still very popular today, including “Do-Re-Mi,” “My Favorite Things,” “Edelweiss,” “Climb Ev’ry Mountain” and the title song.

“Rodgers and Hammerstein wrote some of the greatest songs of all time,” Donlin said. “They were so gifted at writing timeless melodies that really stir people’s emotions. And like all terrific musicals, the music really goes hand in hand with the plot. This is such a great, compelling love story filled with deep conflict, and it’s all based on a true story.”

“The Sound of Music” takes place in Austria during the 1930s. Maria, played by FHS senior Mallory Fuller, is a postulant at a convent who is too energetic and independent to follow the rules of the institution. When Navy Captain Georg von Trapp, played by FHS senior Troy Dill-Reese, writes to the convent asking for a governess who can handle his seven mischievous children, Maria is given the job. When she arrives, she is initially met with hostility from the children, but her kindness, understanding and sense of fun soon draw them to her and bring some much-needed joy into all of their lives — including the captain’s. Maria and the captain eventually fall in love, although personal conflicts and world events begin to overshadow their newfound romance.

Performances of “The Sound of Music” will be held at 7:30 p.m. March 16, 22 and 23, and at 3 p.m. March 17 and 24. Tickets are $7 for adults, $5 for students and seniors, and $3 for children ages 12 and younger. FHS students will also hold a reception to greet senior citizens before the March 17 show at 2 p.m.

Dill-Reese, who also serves as one of three student producers of the show, is excited to be bringing the character of Georg von Trapp to life.

“He seems like a very simple character at first, but when you peel back all the layers, you realize that he’s a man with a broken heart,” Dill-Reese said. “That resonates very closely with me because I just really love music — music is my whole life. So it’s very sad to me that someone could be so heartbroken that they no longer want to hear any music.”

FHS sophomore McKenna Voss will be portraying Sister Berthe in the show and, like Dill-Reese, she is serving as one of its student producers. She can’t wait to perform “The Sound of Music” for the entire Ferndale community.

“When you get in front of an audience, suddenly there’s that wonderful energy, that adrenaline rush, that really pushes you to do your best,” Voss said. “The actors and the audience, we’re all sharing that same energy together. I just think it’s great to be doing something I love with other people who share that same passion.”

While Donlin stressed that “The Sound of Music” is an FHS student production, with the students handling nearly everything by themselves, it has also allowed a number of younger kids to get involved. A dozen students from Ferndale’s elementary and middle schools are playing the von Trapp children, making them an integral part of the show.

“This time, our younger children will be featured front and center,” Donlin said. “They have to carry a large portion of the show by doing lots of singing and acting. They’re not just being used as window dressing for this production, which I think makes it a lot more fun for these kids.”

Dill-Reese believes that the FHS cast and crew are ready to wow their audience. Because rehearsals have been going so well, he was glad to be able to focus on honing some of the finer, more intricate details before showtime.

“You don’t stop growing with a show until the curtain falls on the final night,” he said. “I feel that this year, we’re actually more prepared than we’ve been in previous years. I’m really excited for the audience to see how well we’ve captured the essence of these characters, how we’ve allowed ourselves to portray these characters and tell this story as openly and honestly as possible.”

When asked if there was anything else that she wanted to tell the public about the show, Voss added with a laugh, “Yeah, definitely come out and see it. I really want our community to know that we put 110 percent of ourselves into this show. So much time, work and effort went into this, and I’m just so proud of everyone in our theatre program.”

Tickets for the FHS production of “The Sound of Music” can be purchased at the door or in advance at the Kulick Community Center, 1201 Livernois St., or the Pleasant Ridge Community Center, 4 Ridge Road. Ferndale High School is located at 881 Pinecrest Drive. For more information, call (248) 586-8609 or visit www.ferndaletheatre.org.