You know the music but you’ve never heard it like this.
Performed by Muskoka’s most talented singers and actors, The Sound of Music signals the celebratory return of the in-person version of the Bracebridge Rotary Club Musical.
The Rotary Club of Bracebridge has showcased local talent to packed houses as part of the annual musical since 1978. That tradition was interrupted by the pandemic but efforts were made last year to keep interest alive via the All Together Now show in 2021.
“We wanted our return to the stage to be a show that was already well-known and would remind people of why this show has become a Bracebridge tradition,” says producer Jean Polak. “The Sound of Music fit the bill and we had a talented and experienced director – Emma Phillips – who was eager to bring it back to the stage.”
The Oscar-winning film is so well-known that it is sometimes forgotten that before the movie came a highly successful stage version starring Mary Martin. The stage version won five Tonys including best musical.
The stage version does differ in some ways from the film, but the general story is essentially the same. Two new songs were added for the film after the death of lyricist Oscar Hammerstein II, so both music and lyrics of “I Have Confidence” and “Something Good” were provided by his musical partner Richard Rodgers. Both songs are in the Rotary version of the play.
“The movie version of The Sound of Music is one of the most popular movie musicals of all time, and many of its songs are classics, such as Do-Re-Mi, My Favourite Things and Edelweiss. I mean, who doesn’t know the phrase Doe, a deer, a female deer?” says Polak. “Besides a happy love story it includes some resonant themes about the importance of resisting oppression and not just going along. It’s set in a time when fascism was creeping through Europe and reflects a real-life story of a family who would not bow down to the Nazis.”
Preparations for The Sound of Music began in October with the cast selection, and they have been rehearsing since November.
“The production team has been working on the show even longer,” says Polak. “The lines are learned, the movements on stage (which is known as blocking) set, the dances choreographed and being polished, the set is up and the fine-tuning is now all that is left. The first rehearsal of actors with our talented band has already taken place and all the final rehearsals are now on the stage of the Renee M. Caisse Memorial Theatre.”
There are over 30 cast members, including a large chorus of nuns. Leads include Hannah Archibald as Maria, Parres Allen as Captain von Trapp, Aussa Penniall as Baroness Schraeder, Brian Jones as Max Detweiler and Nicole Louise Moore as the Mother Abbess.
Parres, Aussa and Nicole have all previously had lead roles in other Rotary shows. Among their many other roles, Parres will be remembered for his stunning turn as the Emcee in Cabaret, Aussa as the title character in Mary Poppins, and Nicole as the Chaperone in The Drowsy Chaperone. Brian was previously in the chorus of Rotary’s productions of Mary Poppins and South Pacific, and is now in his first lead role. Hannah is new to the Rotary shows but not performing in lead roles – before she and their family moved to her husband’s hometown of Bracebridge, she had a professional singing career and acted on television under her maiden name of Krapivinsky.
Once again a talented band under the baton of music director Neil Barlow provides the sound of some lovely music. Performances of the cast have been honed over four months of rehearsals under the guidance of director and assistant director Emma Phillips and Earl Sacrey, the choral director Fran Harvey and choreographer Tia Pearse. The technical wizardry and dedication of technical director Michel Emson then makes their performances sparkle on stage.
“We have numerous family connections within the production as well,” says Polak. “There is a husband and wife, a brother and sister, a mother and daughter, a mother and son. And amongst the rest of the cast and crew, great friendships have been formed and old friendships rekindled. In the aftermath of the social isolation of the pandemic, the Rotary show has seen a joyful re-ignition of the fellowship that working hard together can bring.
The Sound of Music opens at the Rene Caisse Theatre with a gala dinner and show on Thursday, February 23. Although numbers are being firmed up with the caterer, some tickets for the gala may still be available (call 705-64-2855 for gala tickets only). Tickets for regular performances can be purchased online at www.thecaisse.ca. Those performances start on Friday, February 24 at 7:30 pm, and continue with evening performances on February 25 and Thursday and Friday March 2 and 3.
There are also two matinées (which are already selling out!) on Sunday February 26 and Saturday March 4 at 1:30 pm. Tickets cost $25 for youth and $30 for all others. A discounted group price is available for groups of 10 or more – call 705-706-1938 for group sales or general questions.
In addition to the annual musical, the Rotary Club of Bracebridge sponsors the fireworks extravaganza on July 1st , the Centennial Gardens, and Annie Williams Park to name a few. Rotary also gives back through, among other things, its own local humanitarian fund which helps local families in need and the international drive to eradicate polio worldwide.
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