Don’t tell Becky Straight that children can’t behave and act professionally. She knows better.
Straight, a Clifton Park resident, is directing the Rodgers and Hammerstein classic “The Sound of Music,” opening Friday at the Schenectady Light Opera Company, and as far as she’s concerned, the kids are every bit as professional as the adults in the cast.
“They come to rehearsal prepared and ready to work hard, and I think they work harder at it than anybody else,” said Straight, who has worn many hats at SLOC since 2007 and is now directing her first show there.
‘The Sound of Music’
WHERE: Schenectady Light Opera Company, 427 Franklin St., Schenectady
WHEN: 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 2 p.m. Sunday, 8 p.m. March 21-23, and 2 p.m. March 24
HOW MUCH: $28-$18
MORE INFO: 877-350-7378, www.sloctheater.org
“They are driven, they want to do well, and I think that’s great because they’re the next generation that we’re going to be handing off to. I think children should be the heart and focus of community theater.”
And having two role models like Erin Waterhouse (Maria) and John Sutliff (Captain von Trapp) makes Straight’s job a whole lot easier.
“I love working with kids, it’s my passion, and when you surround them with talented adults, like we have in this cast, I just love it,” said Straight.
“It’s great that they have people to look up to and inspire them. Erin has a beautiful singing voice, and she’s so talented she’ll move you to tears, and John just really embodies the whole spirit of Captain von Trapp. I really feel fortunate to have them in the cast.”
More than 85 children auditioned for the SLOC production, as well as around 50 adults.
The show is based on the memoir of Maria von Trapp, “The Story of the Trapp Family Singers,” and centers on Maria, a governess who lives with the motherless von Trapp children while their father, the Captain, deals with the problems of German-occupied Austria in 1938.
The show opened on Broadway in November of 1959 and ran until June of 1963. It won five Tonys, including Best Musical, and was nominated for eight altogether. Mary Martin won a Tony for her performance as Maria, and Theodore Bikel was nominated as Captain von Trapp.
Hollywood came out with its version in 1965 starring Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer, and the movie became the most successful film adaptation of a Broadway musical of all time. It won five Oscars, including Best Picture, and earned 10 nominations in all.
“The Sound of Music” was the final collaboration in the long-running partnership of Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II. Hammerstein died of cancer within a year of the show’s Broadway premiere. The show is filled with some of Broadway’s most memorial melodies, including the title song, “The Sound of Music,” along with “My Favorite Things,” “Climb Ev’ry Mountain,” and “Edelweiss,” to name just a few.
“The stage play is similar to the movie, and there a couple of songs that were in the Broadway production that weren’t in the movie,” said Straight. “We got permission to change a few things, so all the songs you remember from the movie we will be singing in our show. It’s great music.”
Straight came to the theater world only recently.
“I’ve always enjoyed singing and I loved the arts, but I was never that involved in the theater until my daughter turned 8,” she said. “She took to performing naturally. She fell in love with it, and as a result I also fell in love with it. I’ve been working at SLOC since my daughter was in “Annie” back in 2007, and I’ve done a lot of work with the costumes and props. I’ve also been the house manager and usher coordinator since we started getting involved six years ago.”
She has also directed, handling shows at her daughter’s school, Capital Area Productions and the Troy Acting Guild in Lansingburgh. She also directed projects at the Into The Woods Summer Camp in Albany and Troy, overseeing 40 children between the ages of 5 and 18.
Her daughter, Gabrielle, is in this production as Louisa, while rounding out the cast of children are Lydia Walrath as Leisl, Connor Olney as Friedrich, Henry Sinnott as Kurt, Heather Pangburn as Brigitta, Gabriella Pizzolo as Marta, and Sofia Trimarchi as Greta. Janice Walz is Mother Abbess and Joe Phillips is Max Detweiler.
Waterhouse has been quite a busy actor lately, performing in six shows since October of 2009, including two at Curtain Call, two at the Schenectady Civic Playhouse, one at SLOC and another at Capital Rep. Sutliff has done much of his work at Home Made Theater in Saratoga Springs, and most recently played Franklin Hart, the womanizing boss, in the October, 2012 production of “9 to 5: The Musical.”
Sev Moro and Adam Coons are responsible for the set.
‘Woman in Mind’
WHERE: Schenectady Civic Playhouse, 12 South Church St., Schenectady
WHEN: 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 2:30 p.m. Sunday, 7:30 p.m. March 20-21, 8 p.m. March 22-23, and 2:30 p.m. March 24
HOW MUCH: $15
MORE INFO: 346-6204, www.civicplayers.org
Also opening Friday night is the Schenectady Civic Players production of Alan Ayckbourn’s “Woman in Mind,” a play seen through the eyes of a woman, Susan, who struggles through relationships with her husband, her son, and her sister-in-law. The play opened in London’s West End in 1986, and made its New York debut in 1988 with Stockard Channing winning a Drama Desk award for her performance as Susan.
Amy M. Lane is playing Susan in the SCP production, while Marty O’Connor is her husband, Gerald. Also in the cast are veterans Victor Cahn as Bill and Joan Justice as Muriel.
Tom Heckert is direction the production, Mary Kozlowski is in charge of set design and construction and Beth Ruman is the costume designer.