The music from the hills arrives at Duane Smith

-A A +A
By Ann Mauzy

A treat for tough times, Los Alamos Light Opera’s production of “The Sound of Music” is wholesome family entertainment with the uplifting music of Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II not to mention the cutest kids in town.

Director Laurie Tomlinson said, “Musical Director Gretchen Amstutz and I chose this musical because of its universal appeal and the cast requirements. The seven Von Trapp children and an abbey full of nuns gave members of the community a great opportunity to participate.”

“The Sound of Music” is a love story with an added layer of drama — the lurking presence of the Nazi occupation. It is 1938 in the Austrian Tyrol. Postulant Maria Rainer, played by Elisa Enriquez, doesn’t quite fit in at the Nonnberg Abbey. The Mother Abbess, played by Jess Cullinan and nuns Wendy Swanson, Carolyn Connor and Gwen Weins discuss Maria’s future in “How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria?”

Mother Abbess kindly counsels Maria, and they both sing “My Favorite Things.” Mother Abbess sends Maria to serve temporarily as a governess for the seven children of the wealthy navy captain, Georg Von Trapp, played by Bruce Lamartine. The children, from oldest to youngest, are played by Natasha Roberts, Matthew Davenport, Monica Poston, Johan Johnson, Emily Hopkins, Nora Cullinan and Lillian Petersen. Maria wins their affection with her generous heart and her gift of music, teaching them “Do Re Mi.”

In the musical’s secondary love story, Liesl, the eldest and Rolf, the telegram delivery boy (Brandt Hodgson), meet secretly just outside the villa. In a charming rendition of “Sixteen Going On Seventeen,” choreographed by Roberts, Liesl and Rolf sing, dance and flirt with each other.

Liesl returns through Maria’s window, giving the two young women a chance to talk about life and deepen their bond. A sudden thunderstorm sends all the children into Maria’s bedroom, where she comforts them with her courage-building song “The Lonely Goat Herd.”

Capt. Von Trapp’s wealthy, soon-to-be fiancée Elsa, played by Claire Singleton, arrives with Max Detweiler, played by John Cullinan. Max is an entrepreneur looking for an act for the Kaltzberg Festival. The three sing “How Can Love Survive?” The children  greet Elsa with “The Sound of Music,” and the captain joins in.

Maria and the captain dance the Lendler, an Austrian folk dance at a fancy party given for Elsa. The dance steps contrive to put them closely face to face and romance burns. In confusion, Maria tries to return to the abbey, but the Mother Abbess sends her back, saying she must face her fears. Maria returns to the villa to find that Elsa has decided to leave because the captain cannot simply go along with the Nazi occupation. Maria and the captain declare their love and sing “Something Good,” from the 1965 movie.

While they are away on their honeymoon, the opportunistic Max rehearses the children for the festival. Captain Von Trapp is adamantly opposed to his children singing in public, but he and Maria realize it’s a great opportunity to avoid the commission he has been commanded to take with the Third Reich. At the festival, where the flag of the Third Reich is prominently hung, the Von Trapp Family Singers perform “Good Bye, Farewell” and escape to hide in the abbey.

Rolf enters as one of the Nazi troopers and spies the family. After a heart-stopping moment, he decides not to expose them and as the nuns sing “Climb Every Mountain,” the family escapes into Switzerland.

The production’s intricate sets were designed by Tomlinson and executed by Larry Cox. Tomlinson says, “Larry did an amazing job of bringing the designs to life, creating a set that’s beautiful as well as functional.”

 “It’s always fun to work with Gretchen. This is our second collaboration, and we share the same work ethic and vision,” Tomlinson said. “We’ve had so much fun working with the kids. They are a great group and work extremely well together. No one is trying to be a prima donna.”

“The Sound of Music” plays Friday and Saturday and March 13 and 14 at 8 p.m. and at 2 p.m. Sunday at the Duane Smith Auditorium. Tickets are $12 for general admission and $10 for students and seniors,  and are available at CB Fox or at the door.

Opening night only, a child is free with a paying adult. For reservations call 505-662-3858.