Caitlin Smith (Maria) and Jakob Hogarth (Captain von Trapp) in character

Musical more than just about the songs

Thursday, March 31, 2022
Brenton Stacey
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Brenton Stacey

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Brenton is Avondale University’s Public Relations and Philanthropy Officer. He brings to the role experience as a communicator in publishing, media relations, public relations, radio and television, mostly within the Seventh-day Adventist Church in the South Pacific and its entities.

Maria and the Captain will capture your heart

Sentimentality and steadfastness: two good reasons why the world’s most beloved musical is coming to Avondale University.

A cast of 40 and a 40-piece orchestra will bring The Sound of Music to the stage in the Chan Shun Auditorium over graduation weekend (April 8, 9 and 10). Interest in the story of the Trapp Family Singers has been strong, with almost 1500 tickets sold so far.

Musical director Dr Aleta King is pleased but not surprised. “Some of my earliest memories are of singing along to the movie with Mum and my sister. I know every word, every line. I love the music, but I also love the story and what it stands for.”

Despite a Nazi invasion of their country, widowed naval captain Georg von Trapp and his governess, Maria, a postulant who became his wife, remained steadfast not only in their loyalty to Austria, but also to their faith and values. Exile and persecution would have been preferable to compromise, Maria would later say.

“Yes, The Sound of Music is about music, and it’s beautiful music with good lyrics, but it’s also about integrity, about not compromising,” says Aleta. “And that’s a message as appropriate now as it was back then.”

With an intergenerational cast—the youngest member is seven, the eldest 83—bringing the characters to life, responses to the story have varied. “At least half the cast grew up watching the movie, or remember it being released, and understand the context,” says creative director Sarah Morton. “The other half will be in a rehearsal and go, ‘Oh, now I understand. It’s the Nazis who are coming.’” The enthusiasm of these students “warms my heart,” says Sarah. For many, it is their first musical theatre experience. “As an educator, the ability to help young people do something they’ve never done before and seeing the confidence it brings is why I do what I do.”

Teacher-in-training Caitlin Smith plays Maria. Studying primary education has helped her “sit comfortably in the character. All Maria wants is to see children flourish. And that’s what I want, too.” Caitlin has enjoyed the autonomy Aleta and Sarah have given the lead characters. “They’ve let us make the characters our own, but I wouldn’t have felt comfortable with that independence had they not modelled it to us.” Life lessons have followed. Caitlin’s call to the “ministry of teaching” means she is also a model of faith in practice. It is about relationships, “mine with my students and my students with Christ.”

With its focus on faith and fidelity to mission, the musical is a good fit for Avondale. The last few lines are a good example. The Mother Abbess comforts a fearful young Kurt. “You will have help,” she says, before reciting Isaiah 55:12: “For you shall go out with joy and be led forth with peace; the mountains and the hills will break forth before you into singing.” Aleta paraphrases another line. “It feels like we’re starting at the beginning again, and that’s a very good place to start,” she says. “After so many COVID delays, we can finally start to sing again.”

See The Sound of Music

Like Maria, your heart will want to sing every song it hears, too. Re-live the story of the Trapp Family Singers. Single, Double and Family tickets are available for the following performances: | Friday, April 8, 11 am, | Saturday, April 9, 7 pm, | Sunday, April 10, 6 pm.