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Round Trapp

â€Å"Sound of music” hits the right note

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There are a few times in history when there is a perfect marriage between particular people and the times in which they live. Winston Churchill was the absolute right person for Britain during the early days of World War II. He managed to keep his country together in the face of an imminent invasion, hard times and promises of harder times to come. Or George Washington and his role as first president, when he argued for elections instead of following his ego and taking charge of a new country he gambled everything to form.

The South Sound has such a person in Scott Campbell. The artistic managing director of Lakewood Playhouse is pulling his shift as director for “The Sound of Music,” which opened last week.

The show tells the musical story of Maria, a young nun from an Austrian abbey, and her service to Capt. Georg Von Trapp’s seven hurting, yet sweet-hearted children.  Maria and the captain then fall in love, get married, and make a daring escape with their entire family from Nazi-occupied Austria.

The Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein show is a tough play to stage since everyone in the audience most certainly has not only seen the movie but will likely fight the urge to sing along with each of the songs. Theatergoers likely have such a high expectation for the show that anything short of magic will be a letdown. They don’t have to worry about this show. It is magic.

What makes it magical is not that it follows the movie scene by scene to the point that it feels like Julie Andrews is listed on the playbill. People could watch the movie if they wanted that. Campbell stayed true to the story, included the deleted songs from the movie, and added his own little touches.

Part of the magic is the simple but effective staging. The theater-in-the-round stage allows audiences to sit on all sides of the stage, so there can’t be much of a backdrop. Changing scenes too much makes for a long and slow show since time would be wasted with set changes.

Campbell showed his mastery of the stage by figuring out how to keep changes quick but complete with a judicious selection of set pieces. But he also had the sense to let the actors explore their characters outside of what they might have seen on the silver screen.

Adrienne Grieco, who plays Maria, found a way to make the iconic role her own while still being true to the expectations of the audience. She rocked the role by tapping into the bright eyed nun-to-be inside of her rather than simply mimic the role made famous by Andrews decades ago.

Christopher Gilbert was absolutely and completely convincing as a retired Austrian navy captain with a gaggle of children and pain from the death of his wife with little tools to move on with his life.

The roster of notable performances runs the playbill.

[Lakewood Playhouse, through Dec. 23, plus Jan. 4-13, 8 p.m. Friday-Saturday, 2 p.m. Sunday, $14-$22, 5729 Lakewood Towne Center Blvd., next to the Pierce Transit Center in the Lakewood Towne Center, Lakewood, 253.588.0042]

Steve Dunkelberger has covered the South Sound theater scene for 14 years.  He can be reached at or at his virtual voice mail at 320.216.5007.

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