‘Sound of Music’ brings our hills to life

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By Sara Miller

2012 is a banner year for the Evergreen Chorale. The 90-person, award-winning choral group has been an “up-the-hill” institution for more than four decades. In celebration of its 40th anniversary, the Chorale is kicking off its season by bringing our “up-the-hill” hills alive with “The Sound of Music.”

“There is much joy surrounding ‘The Sound of Music,’ and the story really is about the redemption and power of the love of music,” says Christine Gaudreau, artistic and musical Director of the Evergreen Chorale. “It is the perfect show to start our 40th-anniversary season.”

The show takes place in Salzburg, Austria, where Maria (played by Carolyn Lohr), a woman studying to become a nun, is sent from her convent to be the governess for seven children of a widowed naval commander, Captain Georg Ritter von Trapp (played by Andy Anderson). The children, initially hostile and mischievous, come to like her, and the woman finds herself falling in love with the Captain. The Captain was soon to be married to Baroness Schrader (played by Gail Montgomery) but marries Maria instead. Maria teaches the children to sing. The Captain is joined by his friend, Max Detweiler (played by DJ Himstedt), and the Mother Abbess (played by Leanne Scherlong). Meanwhile, the Nazis take power in Austria as part of the Anschluss, and want the Captain back in service. In order to avoid joining the Third Reich, the whole family flees and walks over the mountains to Switzerland.

The production has a cast of more than 40 actors, ranging in age from 6 to 80 years old. In keeping with the show’s theme of family, the Chorale has five families in the cast: Gail Montgomery and her two children, Paige and Jack; Chad and Stacy Hewitt and their daughter Jordan; Laura and Jon Miller and their son Ian; Julie Engle and Derya Senol; and Leanne Fesenmeyer and her son Ian.

“When I began with the Chorale just over two years ago, one of my goals is I wanted the Chorale to be a  multi-generational organization. We’ve really succeeded with that goal in this show,” Gaudreau says.

Those who have seen the iconic 1965 movie starring Julie Andrews may remember “The Sound of Music” as touching and a bit heart-wrenching. While the stage version still highlights the emotional connections within this musical family, it also offers some comic relief, too. The Baroness and Max are two characters highlighted more closely in the stage show. Played by Montgomery and Himstedt, this comic duo will have audiences crying — with laughter.

Audiences will not only leave the theater entertained, but stuffed as well. To make the transportive experience of “The Sound of Music”complete, audiences can purchase apfelstrudel with vanilla ice cream, Austrian wines and German beers during intermission.

The “Sound of Music” is just the beginning of the Evergreen Chorale’s 40th-anniversary season. The full Chorale will perform Handel’s “Messiah” with traditional baroque instrumentation in December. In February the Chorale will perform the musical comedy “1776.” In March, the Chorale joins the Jefferson Symphony Orchestra and the Evergreen Children’s Chorale for Carl Orff’s “Carmina Burana.” The Chorale’s final show of the season will be a south-of-the-border extravaganza in collaboration with Fiesta Colorado.

Tickets to “The Sound of Music” and season tickets for the entire 40th-anniversary season are on sale now. For more information, visit www.evergreenchorale.org.

Sara Miller, a freelance writer and a resident of Evergreen, lives with her husband, two children and a dog.

‘The Sound of Music’

Performed by the Evergreen Chorale Sept. 14 through Oct. 7; Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday matinees at 3 p.m.

Center/Stage Theater, 27608 Fireweed Drive in Evergreen

For more information, visit www.evergreenchorale.org or call 303-674-4002.