By Deanna Walz
The first time I visited The Stage Theater, I had to visit the port-a-potties outside in December during intermission. Last night I was speechless as I walked in the doors of their brand new facility in Hickman, NE. The new Nebraska Communities Playhouse is a gorgeous modern facility that will be such a wonderful space, not only for the performing arts, but other events and community projects. And what a perfect way to welcome the community into the space but with a performance of one of the world’s most beloved musicals, The Sound of Music.
You always know when you attend a Stage Theater production that the attention to detail will be second-to-none. The sets are always gorgeous and The Sound of Music was no exception. Now free to create on a bigger canvas, set designer and director Robert Wamsley used generous set-pieces to create the lavish feel of the wealthy Von Trapp family. Through innovative lighting design by Wamsley and Corby Stolcpart, the gorgeous painted backdrop of the mountain looked almost different in every scene. It will be very exciting to see how Wamsley’s set design continues to develop as he plays in the larger space.
Claire Wilkinson has charmed audiences in every role she has played on Lincoln stages over the past several years, and her youthful take on Maria was energetic and delightful. While so many people are familiar with Julie Andrews in the movie, Wilkinson’s effervescent Maria established a uniquely sweet relationship with the Von Trapp children. In fact, the classic yodel, “The Lonely Goatherd,” was probably my favorite number in the show. The joy of the entire cast was so palpable.
The kids were all adorable and perfectly cast. It was fun for the audience to watch them connect with each other and Wilkinson. A stand-out was Rosemary Lang who played the oldest daughter Liesl with perfect ingenue warmth. Her duet of “Sixteen Going on Seventeen” with love interest Rolf Gruber played by Justin Eisenbeis was a joy to watch.
Much in the stage adaptation of The Sound of Music is what you would expect if you are a fan of the movie. However, there was one scene that really brought some interesting tension to the audience. During the music competition scene, where the family performs just before fleeing Austria, uniformed “nazis” patrolled the aisles. This created a visceral reaction in the audience and an innovative way to set up the climax of the production.
The show is exactly what you want to see during the holidays. Like a warm, familiar mug of cocoa, The Sound of Music is a crowd-pleaser that will attract seasoned theatre-goers as well as the general public.
If you go: The Sound of Music runs December 2-5 & 9-12, 2021 at The Nebraska Communities Playhouse in Hickman, NE. Thur-Sat 7:30 PM and Sundays at 2 PM. Tickets are $21 for adults and $15 for patrons under 18 years of age. Tickets can be purchased online, by calling (402)792-8882, or at the door.
Deanna Walz is the Director of Development for Habitat for Humanity. She has participated in productions for many theatre companies in Lincoln both on and off stage. She believes in the power of community theatre for the audience, the production team, and for our community as a whole. Sharing stories creates stronger communities.
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