There are reasons why some shows become classics, and Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “The Sound of Music,” the summer attraction at Maggie’s Little Theater in Middle Village, is a perfect example.
Though often dismissed for being overly saccharine, the show has its heart — a large one, at that — in the right place, and its score overflows with melodies that people of all ages can hum at will. With songs like “Do-Re-Mi,” “Climb Every Mountain,” “So Long, Farewell,” and the title tune, audiences enter the theater singing.
And, above all, the show’s tale is unfailingly compelling. Who would not be touched as the von Trapp family makes its way over the Alps to escape the atrocities of the Nazis? Being based on a true story gives the show extra meaning.
Proof of the show’s enduring popularity was the sell-out crowd on opening night.
Fans of the film version will notice several differences, especially among the musical numbers. Over the years, stage revivals have played around with the changes, sometimes melding the two incarnations. At Maggie’s, the show is presented basically as it opened on Broadway in 1959.
Saturday night, which marked this production’s debut, went off with nary a hitch.
Heading the cast as Maria, the postulant intent on dedicating her life to a religious order, only to be sidetracked as a governess for the seven children of a widowed naval captain, is Jessica Petschauer, who has a lovely singing voice and an easy manner in her interactions with the youngsters.
As the captain, a rather thankless role, Peter Sullivan appeared self-conscious on opening night, particularly during his songs, though the interplay between the two leads on the anthem-like “Edelweiss,” when the captain becomes too emotional to continue, was touching, indeed.
Perhaps the most beautiful vocal rendition of the evening was delivered by Dolores Voyer as the Mother Abbess, effortlessly reaching the high notes as she encourages Maria to seek her destiny.
Joe Paciullo, as Max, who launches the family on the road to stardom, and Monica Ortiz, as the captain’s money-hungry love interest, Elsa, have fun with the roles.
Among the others with standout roles are Annice Auriemma as the “Sixteen Going On Seventeen” girl, Liesl; Anthony Faubion as Rolf, her boyfriend turned Nazi; and the six younger children, Brian Voyer, Amy Guarino, Brianna Sheridan (who is most convincing in a gender-bending turn as Kurt), Lauren Cassidy, Chloe Sue Walsh and Stephanie Verderber, all of whom put their songs over with aplomb.
Barbara Auriemma, who directed the production, is to be commended for keeping the audience’s interest despite familiarity with the material.
Musical Director Frank Auriemma leads an impeccable band, which plays nearly continuously throughout.
The choreography by Trevor Downey is simple, though the spin on “So Long, Farewell” is a welcome change from the traditional duplication of the film’s version.
At the opening, a certain highlight was the pre-show curtain speech by one of the producers, Alan David Perkins, putting the audience in a positive frame of mind.
‘The Sound of Music’
When: July 15 and 16, 8 p.m.; July 17, 2:30 p.m.
Where: St. Margaret’s Parish Hall, 66-05 79 Place, Middle Village.
Tickets: $15; $13 for seniors; $10 for children