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Rodgers and Hammerstein chestnut is still a joy in Circle Players' production

Rodgers and Hammerstein chestnut is still a joy in Circle Players' production

Circle Players' new production of The Sound of Music is a surprising success, thanks primarily to the many gifted singers director Terry McLemore has gathered for his large cast. There are standouts everywhere, beginning with Cathy Sanborn-Street, whose turn as Maria is characterized by gentle warmth and assured vocals. Veteran Tom Good handles the Captain von Trapp role with confidence as well (though he's more singer than actor). Rachel R. Sullivan is simply sublime as the Mother Abbess, rendering the inspirational "Climb Ev'ry Mountain" with uncommon beauty and power.

The 11 children who play the seven von Trapp children (some roles are double-cast) provide evidence of Music City's wealth of gifted young actors. They range in ages from 7 to 16, and the specific grouping at the recent Sunday matinee—Megan Roddick, Jonathan Lloyd, Mariah Parris, Markus McClain, Natalia Dyer, Anna Harrer and Bryce Hitchcock—acquitted themselves throughout with precocious aplomb and unerring charm.

Among the other principals, Karen Burns, Tony Correro and Adam Crabtree make solid contributions, with Catherine Birdsong also distinguishing herself out of the chorus by virtue of her lovely voice. The biggest star here may be musical director Jane Kelley Watt, who plays keyboards, oversees the accompanying six-piece combo and does a marvelous job of bringing out the richness of the classic Rodgers and Hammerstein score. Jeanne Ackerley's costumes help convey the flavor of 1930s Austria.

McLemore's staging is perfunctory at first—Sanborn-Street's opening rendition of the title tune, while sung well, was played flatly and at a curiously remote distance—but it gradually improves as the show progresses. In addition, the Maria/Captain von Trapp relationship could use more development to flesh out the subtleties. Happily, the actors discern enough of the motivations for themselves, and the consistently good singing keeps the proceedings lively, even at a running time of nearly three hours.

The Sound of Music will be performed through July 24 at Father Ryan High School's comfortable Center for Performing Arts. For tickets, visit www.circleplayers.net.

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