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Wednesday, Apr 01, 2015

One of my favorite things

MARSHA REINIERS Hernando Today correspondent
Published:   |   Updated: May 7, 2013 at 06:20 PM

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The "hills" of Hudson are truly alive with the sound of music. "The Sound of Music," with one of the most hummable scores, loved the world over, is a feast for the eyes and ears and music for the soul. The Show Palace Dinner Theatre in Hudson breathes life into this beloved musical. Under the direction of William Garon, who also serves as music director, this show is as grand as any production on any professional stage. The costuming is spot on, and the cast of talented performers, from the youngest Von Trapp child to the oldest adult, is nothing short of spectacular.

Everyone knows the story: Maria, a nun in l930s Austria, is sent to be the governess of seven children of the stern, overbearing Captain Von Trapp. What begins as a sweet musical with Maria falling in love with the Captain and his seven children, is ratcheted up a few notches when the Nazis demand that Captain Von Trapp serve in their Navy. The tension is heavy as the family performs at a local singing festival and later finds refuge in the Abbey, and eventually cross the mountains of Austria into Switzerland to escape the Nazis.

Production Designer Tom Hansen, with help from stage manager Tim Dow painted stunning backdrops for this production. The mountains of Austria have never been closer. You can nearly smell the lush evergreens and wildflowers in the air as the curtain opens.

Beautifully choreographed by Shanna Sell, this is a show you should not miss. Kelly Pekar is adorable as the exuberant, dewy-eyed Maria. Brian Minyard, as the overpowering Captain Von Trapp, is simply dashing. He commands his home as though still on the deck of his ship. Pekar's lovely voice does not disappoint. From the opening number "The Sound of Music," to the numbers done with the children — "Do Re Mi," and "The Lonely Goatherd" — she is one of the most talented leads to grace the stage. The synergy between her and Minyard is exciting. Minyard has a voice that is velvet on the ears and the few times he sings left me wishing for more. His rich voice, combined with the loveliness of Pekar, in the romantic number "Something Good" is spell-bindingly romantic.

Susan Haldeman, as the strict but loving Mother Abbess, gives new meaning to hope with a heartfelt "Climb Every Mountain," bringing the loudest applause of the evening. It is delightful to see her on stage again in a role that showcases her flawless voice. Under Garon's musical direction, the gorgeous intricate harmonies of the abbey novices and nuns are a show highlight — especially in the opening scene, and brought to a climactic crescendo during the wedding of the lovely Maria. This is every bit as dramatic as the scene in the film.

And the children! These are not child actors — they are professionals. All triple threats who sing, dance and act flawlessly. Viewers will fall in love with them as they watch the love growing between them and Maria, their governess. Dakota Ruiz, as Kurt, hits some high notes as he yodels along with Maria in "Lonely Goatherd." The cleverly performed "So Long, Farewell" is marvelous, with Amanda Siegle as adorable Gretl, bringing the number to an end. Megan Sell as the precocious Louisa, Catherine Minyard as Brigitta, with Tad Andris as Friedrich and Casey Kerns as Marta round out this ultra-talented cast of children.

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