TELLURIDE – As the lights dim and the Telluride Repertory Theatre’s production of The Sound of Music (onstage at the Michael Palm Theatre tonight through Sunday, March 29, each night at 7 p.m.) begins, the audience is transported to dusk in an ancient Austrian abbey, where nuns bearing candles slowly mount the stage, their voices soaring in a hauntingly beautiful psalm.
It’s an intoxicating beginning for an uplifting rendition of the classic musical featuring a cast lifted from the realm of everyday life here in the Telluride region.
The Nazi-supporting Herr Zeller, upon close scrutiny, is Galloping Goose driver (and longtime Rep participant) Peter Chadman; the self-inflated Max Detweiler turns out to be hairstylist Jesse James Martin. The self-effacing, quietly sympathetic housekeeper Frau Schmidt is none other than longtime Telluride Choral Society stalwart Deb Stevens, who works by day in Dr. Terry Brown’s Pine St. offices. There’s St. Patrick’s Deacon Mike Doehrman (along with his wife, as party guests), accounting whiz Katie Jewett (a nun), and, shining in the lead role (alongside a dapper Captain Georg von Trapp (Sean McNamara) longtime Telluride Elementary School teacher Amy Vanderbosch, who is Maria.
“That’s your Maria – she’s the one,” the show’s director Cate Caplin says she knew even during Vanderbosch’s audition.
“When she auditioned, she wasn’t even interested in playing Maria,” she says of Vanderbosch – who is, she adds, “an absolute ace; she has been so professional.
“She has the most lines, and the most costume changes,” yet she was the first actor to memorize her lines and “go off the book.”
Nearly 50 Telluride region regulars drift in and out of scenes in this production of the familiar story of what happens after nunnery postulant Maria Rainer is sent from an Austrian abbey to work as a temporary nanny for widower von Trapp, a distinguished Austro-Hungarian naval commander, and manage his troubled brood.
“I did it like a giant puzzle,” Caplin says of putting together a show that involves no fewer than 13 set changes in a community whose residents are always on the move.
Asked what was the biggest challenge she faced in the six weeks she had to pull the show together, Capln says: “I think synthesizing all the Swiss cheese conflicts in scheduling I was presented with – omigod, with 50 people, somebody gone three days, somebody gone for a week, somebody’s bedtime, she’s got ballet, he’s got karate – I should show it to you.”
Caplin proceeded to chart “who was available” when, and went to work “chipping away at little pieces of scene-work until we’d uncovered all the scenes.”
Key to the strategy was getting down the songs, facilitated by Telluride Choral Society Director Dr. David Lingle. “We worked on a lot of the music upfront, so it would be really in their bodies” as the actors began working on their dance routines.
“I drilled them,” says Caplin, a professional ballroom dancer whose company, Night and Day Entertainment, produces ballroom-dance entertainments; she is a coach for television’s Dance With the Stars; she choreographed a ballroom dance in the recent remake of The Poseidon Adventure and she and her longtime dance partner are waiting to hear whether or not they’ll be performing next summer in Guys and Dolls at the Hollywood Bowl.
Caplin will miss closing night Sunday – she’s due back in Los Angeles to catch the last performance of a two-person show she directed about internet dating called E-love: A Musical dotcom/edy.
For tickets, call 970/728-4539 or visit Tellurideticket.com. The Sound of Music
Noonberg Abbey Postulant Maria Rainer – Amy Vanderbosch
Noonberg Mother Abbess – Karla Brown
Sister Berthe – Ginny Fraser
Sister Margaretta – Mollie Fast
Sister Sophia – Chrissie Fieseler
Captain Georg von Trapp – Sean McNamara
Franz, the Butler – Curt Moe
Frau Schmidt, the Housekeeper – Deb Stevens
Rolf Gruber, age 17 – Spencer Zarr
Elsa Schrader – Traci Baize
Max Detweiler – Jesse James Martin
Herr Zeller – Peter Chadman
Baron Elberfeld – Michael Doehrman
Baroness Elberfeld – Carolyn Doehrman
Admiral von Schreiber – Mark Westman
The von Trapp children
Liesl, age 16 – Brittany Altman
Friedrich, age 14 – Jackson Blanks
Louisa, age 13 – Chambri Swartz
Kurt, age 10 – Zane Jackson
Brigitta, age 9 – Annika Westman
Marta, age 7 – Kira Ptak
Gretl, age 5 – Justus Tudor
Nuns Chorus (Postulants)
Deb Stevens; Ginny Fraser; Mollie Fast; Christina Fieseler; Nanci Brown; Katie Jewett; Linda Levin; Susan Rahmann; Jennifer Antista; Susannah Smith; Nancy DeCastro; Amber Hughes; Kyra Westman and Alyssa Antista
Party Guests and Nazis
Anita and Jeff Ptak; Ginny and Stu Fraser; Teresa and Mark Westman; Carolyn and Michael Doehrman and Andy Loomis
Flute, Shelley Warren
Clarinet, Larry Sims
Trumpet, Matthew Barr
Horn, John Lorimer
Trombone, John House
Violin, Danny DeSantis
Viola, Mary Ella House
Keyboard I, Bobbie Shaffer
Keyboard II, Marilyn Stoutenberg
Perccussion, Mark Goldfogel