The Sound of Music to be heard and seen at MLC

NEW ULM-The 1959 play “The Sound of Music” has it all: romance, music, adorable children, nuns, the Austrian Alps and the Nazi occupation of Austria. Beginning Friday, Nov. 4 New Ulm audiences will be able to attend a live performance of the play at Martian Luther College.

Set in Austria before the start of World War II, “The Sound of Music” tells the story of a young nun named Maria who serves as the governess for the seven children belonging to the widower Captain Georg Von Trapp. Soon the children and the Captain grow attached to Maria, but the Nazi invasion of Austria threatens the new family’s happy life.

The production staff chose “The Sound of Music” as the fall musical back in April and planning for the production began immediately. Putting on a production of “The Sound of Music” is an impressive feat for MLC. The popular musical features a large cast, dozens of costumes, big set pieces and several memorable songs.

Auditions began before the start of the semester. Early on the producer decided to cast area children to play the youngest Von Trapp children. Advertisements for auditioned were submitted to St. Paul Lutheran in August. Nearly 50 New Ulm children auditioned and in the end, five grade school students and two college students were cast as the Von Trapp kids. MLC student Molly Henning is also a New Ulm native and will be playing the Mother Abbess.

The two leads will be played by senior Allison Dorn and freshman Will DeMarce. Dorn has acted in several plays at MLC, but this is her first starring role. Beth Boeder, the faculty director for the production, praised Dorn’s portrayal. “Her singing will be the highlight of the show.”

Boeder is also impressed with DeMarce’s performance. As a freshman, MeMarce already has a wealth of acting experience.

“We’re looking forward to having Will with us for the next four years,” Boeder said.

This production features one of the more extensive casts ever used for a MLC musical and several of the parts are smaller and a few actors will play multiple roles. Fortunately casting these roles was relatively easy. The popularity of the musical lead to a rush of student seeking a part in the production.

Beth Boeder, the faculty director for the production, said dozens of students came forward to help.

With an extensive cast the pressure is on the costume department to dress each actor in Austrian attire from the late 1930’s. Fortunately in New Ulm it is not difficult to find an authentic looking dirndl. Many local residents were wiling to donate their Bavarian Blast outfits to the production.

Boeder said the real challenge was to create costumes for the Von Trapp family. Each of the character goes through multiple costume changes and in several scenes the child characters require matching uniforms that need to fit each individual actor, but thanks to the efforts a few local parents the casts wardrobe was assembled.

Everyone wanted to take part in making “The Sound of Music” success. Dozens of students volunteered their time to build and paint the sets. Even some of the actors took part in set design.

Sets for the production include the Abby Courtyard, an Austrian villa and the terrace at the Von Trapp home. In addition to the ambitious set design MLC managed to rent a back drop of the Austrian Mountain side which can be viewed in nearly every scene. Set windows were constructed to show off the impressive vista.

The entire production is being directed by MLC student Luke Dorn. This is Dorn’s first time as a director, but he has eight years of acting experience to draw from.

Dorn said the greatest challenge of directing this production is working with multiple generations. Since this play features both college and grade school actors Dorn’s needs to direct to each actor’s experience.

Dorn complimented his cast for their support in bringing “The Sound of Music” to life. As a fan of the musical Dorn felt it is easy to bring a level of excitement to the production and the cast and crew is equally motivated.

“My passion for the show is expressed through the students,” he said. “So many are committed to the musical.”

“The Sound of Music” was a Broadway Musical years before it was a film, but most audience are only familiar with the 1965 film starring Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer. Last year the film version celebrated its 50th anniversary leading to a resurgence in the musical. Now seemed like the perfect time for MLC to do the show.

Boeder and Dorn acknowledged the differences in the stage musical verses the film. The production is mostly following the script from the musical but a few elements have been gleamed from the movie. The songs “Confidence” and “Something Good” were written for the movie and did not appear in the original Broadway Play.

Boeder explain these two songs had become famous standards on their own and would likely missed if omitted from the production so MLC paid extra for the rights to use both songs.

Dorn added the order of a few songs is different as well. The song “My Favorite Things” appears earlier in the musical than in the film.

Boeder gave assurances all of the classic songs fan love will be featured.

MLC will hold three performances. The first is 7:30 p.m. Friday, Nov. 4 and the second is 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 5. The finale performance is 2p.m. Sunday, Nov. 6.

All performance will held in the Wittenburg Collegiate Center Auditorium on the Martin Luther College Campus. Tickets are available online at Audiences can also call the green room between 6 and 9 p.m at.507-233-9114 and a student will help reserve tickets. Tickets for the Friday show are nearly sold out. As of Wednesday only 12 tickets were remaining. The theatre seats 804 per show and tickets for the Saturday and Sunday performances are going fast.