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Paynesville Press - August 27, 2003

Theater group stages "The Sound of Music"

By Michael Jacobson

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Maria with von Trapp children on her bed A local community theater group staged six performances of the well-known musical "The Sound of Music" in August, drawing large crowds to the school auditorium.

Total attendance for the six local performances was estimated at 1,600, with an audience of 425 on opening night (Wednesday, Aug. 13) and a near sellout (500 people) on Tuesday, Aug. 19. The show attracted an average crowd of 265 people and ended its six-day run on Wednesday, Aug. 20.

Maria (Sharon Bergman) gathers the von Trapp children - Andrew Swenson, Caitlin Lien, Teirrah Syvertson, Jacki Jo Skoglund, Emily Mehr, and Peder Thompson - on her bed during a scene from "The Sound of Music."

"In a town this size, to sell more than 1,500 tickets, is quite an accomplishment," said director Ian Pelton. The laughter and applause during the performances made all the long hours in rehearsals worthwhile, added musical director Charlene Strand, who thought the audience response was tremendous.

Mother Abbress - Sue Walther The local theater group presented the original Rodgers and Hammerstein play, which won a Tony award for best musical in 1960. The movie version of "The Sound of Music," starring Julie Andrews, won the Academy Award for best picture in 1965.

Mother Abbress (Sue Walther) sings "Climb Every Mountain" as the von Trapp family leaves the abbey for Switzerland.

The musical features a dozen songs, including a couple songs that were not in the movie version. Familiar songs include "The Sound of Music," "My Favorite Things," "Climb Ev'ry Mountain," "So Long, Farewell," and "Edelweiss."

While a summer production with six weeks of rehearsals and one week of performances takes a great deal of commitment, the enthusiasm and willingness of the cast and the volunteers made it worthwhile, according to Pelton. "I couldn't have been happier," he said. "It's refreshing when you get people who want to be here."

Tryouts were held for the play in June, and rehearsals five nights per week began in July. The performances were held over a week in August.

Sharon Bergman, who played the lead role of Maria, was one of several cast members with little stage experience, just church musicals as a youth, she said, though she did have singing experience. She was convinced to try out for the local production because "The Sound of Music" is her favorite musical and thought that the practices and performances were fun.

"I always wanted to be in "The Sound of Music" it was always in the back of my mind but I had never had an opportunity to do it," said Bergman. "It was kind of a dream come true to be in The Sound of Music and to play Maria."

Nazi with Captain and Max Working with the kids, the directors, and the other cast members was a delight, said Bergman.

Strand was also thankful for the Peltons and the other volunteers that made the production possible, saying their enthusiasm and passion for the theater are contagious.

Admiral von Schrieber (Lindsay Hull, center) confronts Captain von Trapp (Dave Wilke, right) as Max Dettweiler (Jim Beckstrand, left) watches.

This summer's production of "The Sound of Music" was financed by a $3,000 grant, which was needed to stage such a well-known musical. Just royalties and the script rental cost $2,000.

The great turnout should help the local theater group to afford to stage another musical or play in the future, since productions face up-front costs like royalties.

Pelton is already considering staging another musical next year, though his preference would be for a musical not as well known as "The Sound of Music." "There are a lot of plays out there that are wonderful and would be standards if people would do them," he explained.

Cast of Characters

The Sound of Music

Maria: Sharon Bergman

Captain von Trapp: David Wilke

The Mother Abbess: Susan Walther

Sister Berthe: Carolyn Swyter

Sister Margaretta: April Mathias

Sister Sophia: Cahlean Klenke

Postulants: Stephanie Wandersee, Paula Geier, and Carol Heitke

Franz the Butler : Dick Butler

Frau Schmidt: Sami Tierney

Liesl: Lindsey Pelton

Friedrich: Peder Thompson

Louisa: Caitlin Lien

Kurt: Andrew Swenson

Brigitta: Emily Mehr

Marta: Jackie Jo Skoglund

Gretl: Teirrah Syvertson

Rolf Gruber: Josh Williquette

Elsa Schrader: Sheila Merrill

Ursula: Paula Geier

Max Dettweiler: Jim Beckstrand

Herr Zeller: John Merrill

Frau Schweiger: Amanda Halvorson

Baron Elberfeld: Steve Swenson

Dwight Peteler Dancers : Ezra Thompson, Laura Stoneburner, Kathy Ziegler, Courtney Colbert, Nicole Schlangen, Trisha Chevalier, Mitch Pearson, Dessiare Housman, Jacob Housman, Andy Yerka, Klaire Lockhart Belle, and Karelle Steinhofer

Director: Ian Pelton

Musical Director: Charlene Strand

Accompanists: Amy Syvertson and Cindy Zimmerman

Sound Technician: Amanda Halvorson

Stage Manager: Jenn Terres

Assistant choreographer: Sami Tierney

Vocal Extra: Karen Theel

Scenery/Design: Molly Zimmerman, assisted by Ginelle Zimmerman, Callie Bennett, and Rheanne Zimmerman Seamstress: Brenda Whitcomb

Tickets/Publicity: Colleen Pelton

Stage Builder: Ian Pelton, assisted by Lindsey Pelton and Sue Voss

"The Sound of Music" photo page

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