Sara King-Bliss & Elizabeth Loos in The Sound of Music. Photo: DDP

The Sound of Music

Book by Howard Lindsay & Russell Crouse
Music by Richard Rodgers, lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II
Directed & choreographed by Heather Paige-Folsom

A review by Brian Kennedy

Entire contents are copyright © 2023 by Brian Kennedy. All rights reserved.

A familiar, fun, and energetic musical can now be found at Derby Dinner Playhouse in The Sound of Music.

The show features Maria (Sara King-Bliss) who, attempting to become a nun in an abbey in 1930s Austria, is sent to the Von Trapp family’s home to be a governess. The Von Trapp children are under the direction of their strict father, Captain von Trapp (Tyler Bliss). Maria bonds with the children and, eventually, finds herself falling in love with the Captain. This leads Maria to have a crisis of faith. Meanwhile, the German annexation of Austria will force the family and those around them to make decisions for their futures.

Each actor clearly had fun doing this show. The energy showcased in both musical and non-musical moments was infectious, leading to smiles on many audience members’ faces. Genuine laughs, gasps, or laughs were heard the entire time. This was especially true during “Do-Re-Mi” when Maria and the adorable Von Trapp children were bouncing all over the theatre-in-the-round stage. In response, the audience kept the beat with handclaps and vocal expressions of appreciation.

One of the Von Trapp children, Liesl (Elenna Usher), also showed great chemistry and dance ability with her love interest Rolf (Braeden Cross) during “Sixteen Going on Seventeen”. The children’s singing, meanwhile, was not bad but didn’t match the confidence of their dancing. At the performance I attended, the children were played by Marina Bliss, Ehren Coffey, Monroe Cox, Lincoln Fogarty, Molly Kirchgessner, & Maggie Moore.

The nuns’ singing was easily a highlight. The opening “Preludium” was on pitch and well-paced. Meanwhile, Mother Abbess (Elizabeth Loos) had a show-stopping turn with the powerful Act One closer “Climb Ev’ry Mountain.”

Then, there are the songs “The Sound of Music” and “My Favorite Things”. Maria and the von Trapp children performed with the enthusiasm and energy required for these classics. The performance was well managed under the direction of Music Director Scott Bradley.

One of the best parts of Derby Dinner Playhouse is how the entire room is used to tell the story. The stage was bare before the show began. As the show progressed, though, props and sets were brought on and off from all four corner doorways as well as lowered from directly above the stage. Near the stage, a bed was even pushed out from or hidden in a platform. Maria, when making the trip from the Abbey to the Captain’s house, walked through a row in the audience, bringing the audience into the action with immediacy.

Derby Dinner Playhouse fulfilled its intention with The Sound of Music to put on a fun, highly entertaining musical. Still, this show has been performed countless times in many theatres and even on live TV virtually the same way each time. Is there a different angle on this show that can be explored? Perhaps we could find out more about the Captain or the von Trapp children’s backstory. Not sure what that show would look like, but it could be interesting to see.

Featuring Dick Baker, Jillian Prefach Baker, Clayton Bliss, Sara King-Bliss, Tyler Bliss, Matthew Brennan, Chris Bryant, Brittany Carricato Cox, Braeden Criss, Michael Floriano, Alex Hunt, Tonilyn Hussey, Kennedy Kruse, Elizabeth Loos, Kathleen Meyer, Robert Sharkey, J.R. Stuart, Hayley Isabella Warfel, & Katelyn Webb

The Von Trapp children are played by two alternating casts:

Marina Bliss, Ehren Coffey, Monroe Cox, Lincoln Fogarty, Molly Kirchgessner, & Maggie Moore.

Hadley Bauer, Emma Brose, Alton Niemeier, John Thomas Richardson, Lucy Scott, & Olivia Thomas

The Sound of Music

June  28 – August 13, 2023

Derby Dinner Playhouse
525 Marriott Drive
Clarksville, Indiana 47129

Brian Kennedy is a nearly life-long Louisville resident who has performed in plays since 2004. He also wrote extensively about the Louisville theatre scene for and from 2009-2015. Currently, he maintains the theatre blog LouBriantheater. When not involved in the theatre scene, he is an avid runner, participating in 5Ks throughout the state and in southern Indiana.