"THE SOUND OF MUSIC," Tuacahn, Ivins, Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays through Aug. 18 (800-746-9822); running time: 2 hours 30 minutes (one intermission)

"The Sound of Music" is arguably one of the best known of the genre — and it's one of two offerings this summer at Tuacahn.

For the most part, it's a pretty good show, with a couple of really great moments. The von Trapp children are likable and charming; the nun chorus is absolutely stunning, with spot-on harmonies; and the show's more serious moments involving the Third Reich were staged well, making the audience feel it was also under Hitler's watchful eye.

This production also offers one of the most clever versions of "The Lonely Goatherd" I've ever seen and one of the show's best moments.

But there were scenes that didn't work, mostly due to staging.

Tuacahn is unique in that it's outside, with a large performing space that stretches off the stage and slopes toward the red rock wall.

At times, the use of this space is effective in moving the story forward or setting the scene — look for an old classic car driving by with a Swastika on the door. At other times, however, the far-away staging gets in the way.

As the live orchestra begins the overture and moves in to one of the greatest musical lines every written, "The hills are alive ..." Maria is so far away it's hard to feel the joy and awe the moment requires. Rather than getting lost in her love of nature, she's busy hiking down the rocky terrain, fiddling with the gate and climbing stairs.

Many of the actors sounded winded, especially Maria (Mindy Smoot Robbins). But it's not entirely her fault; director Rodger Sorensen has her climbing so many stairs it would be almost impossible to maintain good breath support.

Robbins had most of the spunk required to play the role of the feisty novice-turned-governess, but at times her voice didn't fit the part. Robbins often belted the songs rather than using her lyrical, soprano voice. I don't think there are many, if any, Rodgers and Hammerstein tunes that call for belting; it just wasn't their composition style. When Robbins used her soprano, it was lovely.

Timothy Warmen, as Captain von Trapp, had a nice voice, but there was a lack of warmth or strength or some other magic quality that makes the difficult part work.

Derryl Yeager's choreography fit nicely, especially the waltzing. When the Captain and Maria dance the Lindler, their connection should have been palpable, but there was no spark and no magic. The same lack of chemistry was noticeable during "Something Good," although the song was sung beautifully.

This production also kept a song from the original stage version, "How Can Love Survive" (not in the movie and normally pulled from current versions), which left most in the audience whispering about why it wasn't familiar.

Wilma Mickler-Sears' costumes were a nice addition, (the wedding dress was gorgeous) though the clothing made from drapes didn't really look like the drapes, and she had the boys in tank tops, which seemed a odd choice.

At the end of the night, the cast received a standing ovation, and most in the house left with smiles on their faces.


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