The first few scenes of Weddington High School's "Sound of Music" left the audience with high hopes for the rest of the performance. Nuns ran down aisles to whisper and gossip about Maria, while Maria (Rebecca Davidson) showed sincere enthusiasm as she flitted around the mountainside near the abbey.
Bright as the performance’s prospects looked, the beginning could unfortunately be considered the highlight of the matinee, with the exception of "The Lonely Goatherd," which was wrapped up with a precious pillow fight at the end. While the cast’s occasional moments of charm were heart-warming, they were not quite enough to negate the overriding distractions and flaws throughout the rest of the show.
“The Sound of Music” takes place in 1938 Austria, with the peril of a Nazi invasion omnipresent. As director Maria Moore gracefully pointed out before the show, there is nothing like a cell phone ringing to snatch the audience out of 1938 and drop it back down in 2014.
But she decided to use exit doors on either side of the stage as doors in the von Trapp villa, and there was nothing like a Nazi general storming off underneath a glowing red “Exit” sign to bring you out of 1938. (The stage had room for extra set pieces, so the modern doors could have been left out of the performance.) The same dissolution of the spell happened when Maria leaned over a safety handrail and sang of her woes to the crowd.
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While the performance was decently executed, it lacked enough in little areas to prevent much engagement with the audience. The main actors had smooth, well-sung notes but also off-pitch moments and flat scenes. Unfortunately, the majority of these imperfect moments were the key notes that could make or break a scene.
Despite their few mishaps, Davidson and McKay Dula (Captain von Trapp) gave the most consistent performances. While the children were singing their good-byes at the party, Kurt Von Trapp (J.T. Morehead) delivered the highlight of the song, a beautiful note in the soprano range.
There were a regrettable number of distractions. Though technical problems often cannot be helped, cracks and pops from microphones frequently disturbed scenes. The dancing and choreography seemed forced, rather than effortless and natural; we never felt we were peering through a window into the family household. The nuns resembled teenage girls heading off to a party, rather than fresh-faced sisters.
Essential scenes in “The Sound of Music” capable of moving an onlooker to tears were not as poignant as one anticipates. For example, the children turned to each other and smiled while the Captain sang “Edelweiss,” instead of looking forlorn at the tear-inspiring farewell. All in all, the cast was not quite able to capture Maria’s cherished love for the true sound of music.