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Chrysler Theatre Alive With The Sound Of Music

Thursday November 23rd, 2023, 3:11pm

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Revisiting the past, a local theatre company is giving audiences a new chance to enjoy a classic.

Windsor Light Theatre (WLT) is capping off its 75th season with an iconic musical. Performing their final shows of this run at the Chrysler Theatre (located at 201 Riverside Drive West), the company has again brought The Sound of Music to Windsor. Having directed the play for WLT in 2006, Connie Farrer is also overseeing this production.

Although the company also staged the musical in 1968, the director thinks people will still be surprised by the familiar story.

“Whenever you are mounting a classic show like The Sound of Music, you recognize that there are moments that people are watching and waiting for,” she said. “We wanted to make sure the audience gets to experience those moments from their memories, like the children saying their farewells at the end of the party. What many people may not realize is that there are some minor differences between the stage show and the familiar movie version. These changes will keep the audience on their toes as the show unfolds in a slightly different way than they are familiar with.”

This includes lesser-known songs from the 1959 version. Even so, it doesn’t mean this production doesn’t feature classics like My Favourite Things, Do-Re-Mi and Climb Every Mountain. As such, the current run is still intended for those ages six and up.

Being such a large undertaking, rehearsals began in May. Including 46 cast members and 15 singers in the pit chorus, it was important to ensure everything made sense: As actors had to incorporate several elements into their performances, Structuring things properly allowed everyone to be sure of themselves on stage.

It’s a process that started at the show’s foundation in this case.

“With musicals, we are usually given to the musical director first to ensure we’re comfortable with all of our parts,” said Brian Yeomans, who plays Captain von Trapp. “It helps to have all the harmonies perfect before getting your feet, arms and movement involved.”

From there, actors continued to tighten their performances. Having other interpretations of the play, plenty of material was available for everyone to research. With some characters changing in many ways, it became important to know how the story unfolds as well.

Being its own interpretation, however, a proper balance was also required.

“There are a couple of roles in this play, including mine, that shift and change in character from beginning to end,” said Yeomans. “During the first few months of rehearsals, we do scenes out of order, some from the beginning and then the end, sometimes vice versa. So by the time we got to the full run through of the show, you can feel the changes and shifts in the roles. It’s important to know the source material for something like this, because it is so iconic, but not to puppet or mirror the original roles.”

Gradually, things came together, and other elements were introduced. Containing elaborate sets and costuming with dresses made out of curtains, everyone worked their way up to Sitzprobe: This is when performers run through musical numbers with the live orchestra for the first time. Putting such attention into every detail, it was all about bringing the Von Trapp family’s world to life.

Bonding over the shared experience, the process also caused that same life to imitate art.

“I believe the children Von Trapp have been such a crucial element to get right,” said Yeomans. “Over the last several months, it’s been touching to see them grow into almost real siblings – doing everything in rehearsals, staying very close.”

That excitement also extends to his cast mates in the play, which is an important one for the actor.

“I can’t wait for people to hear our Maria (played by Krystal Laframboise) and fall in love with her like the Captain does,” he said. “This is an emotional show for me. I had done this show when I was 16, so to come back and play a role I have wanted to play for over 30 years is an indescribable feeling.”

The remaining performances of The Sound of Music will take place at the Chrysler Theatre on Friday, November 24th, and Saturday, November 25th, at 7:30pm. A Sunday matinee will also take place on November 26th at 2pm. Tickets for all shows start at $35 each plus fees and can be purchased online or by calling 519-252-6579. Group rates are also available for parties of 20 or more. More information can be found on the musical’s official webpage.

Being so iconic, Yeomans has many reasons people should see the musical in person.

“This is a movie that has been a tradition in the homes of so many families I have met that watch it every Christmas or Thanksgiving,” he said. “It’s based on a true story, and to imagine living through such a difficult time in our history is pertinent and important still today. I think being able to see the source material the movie was based on is a wonderful experience — to see local people that you work with, play sports with and go to school with transform into these characters from another time is amazing.

 

 

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