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Theater | STAGE REVIEW

The Parent Trapp

'Sound of Music's' stern dad, kids and governess need more direction than they get in Lake Forest.

July 30, 1998|T.H. McCULLOH | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

In the late 1950s, it was something of a surprise, on early evenings, to see a group of young nuns knocking back martinis at the Astor Hotel bar on Times Square. They were in the chorus of "A Sound of Music," and breaking an Actor's Equity rule by leaving the theater during a show.

Another theater rule is that actors shouldn't mingle with the audience before a show. At Musical Theatre Village's revival of "A Sound of Music," the actors do, and it's a warning about the quality of the production.

Before the show started, one nun told her family to applaud and scream loudly at the end of every number. If you're not a family member, there is little to applaud here. Denise Fenton's direction usually has the actors lined up on stage, facing front and saying their lines to the audience. Little else has been done to give the production shape or style.

Some talented cast members performed at a recent matinee, but they could use more guidance. Most had good voices, at least able to fill this tiny performing space.

Cheryl Huntley's Maria, although a bit more mature than would be ideal, is effective, except when she tries to play younger. Ginny Moon's Mother Abbess is on more solid footing, convincing in both her scenes and in her gentle reading of "Climb Every Mountain." As Capt. Von Trapp, Steve deCoup-Crank is too genial, but later his ready smile and pleasant voice make up for it.

In this group of Von Trapp children, Jenelle Huntley stands out brightly as Liesl, the oldest daughter, and sings with skillful assurance in a strong musical comedy voice. Kristi Fenton is a delight as middle daughter Brigitta, who first notices the looks of love between Maria and her father. Jason Haut almost single-handedly steals the show as youngest son Kurt, with a truly professional sense of performing and entertaining and a comedy flair worth developing.

BE THERE

"The Sound of Music," Music Theatre Village, 22722 Lambert Road, Suite 1711, Lake Forest. 7 p.m. Thursday-Saturday (except Aug. 13), matinees 2:30 p.m. Saturday-Sunday. $8-$10. Ends Aug. 16. (949) 859-3688. Running time: 2 hours, 30 minutes.

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