Tuesday, October 6, 2015

'The Sound of Music' Delivers High Note at the Ahmanson

Kerstin Anderson stars alongside seven talented kids in "The Sound of Music."
You know you must have "something good" if audience members like CC are immediately ready for an encore!

That's exactly what happened last week when CC and I caught the opening night performance of "The Sound of Music" at the Ahmanson. Not only was my 8-year-old often on the edge of her seat — literally — and singing about her own favorite things during intermission, but she asked me if we could catch another performance this weekend.

Kerstin Anderson stars as Maria Rainer in the "Sound of Music" tour, which is directed by Jack O'Brien and playing at the downtown L.A. theater through October 31. Capturing the spirit of a young, flighty postulant at Nonnberg Abbey, Anderson endears herself to the Mother Abbess (the beyond-amazing Ashley Brown) and the audience as someone well-meaning but who doesn't exactly fit in.

As the iconic movie celebrates its 50-year anniversary this year, watching the musical at the Ahmanson is a heartfelt reminder of just how wonderful the story is and how beautiful the songs are. And Anderson's voice knocks it out of the park — or should I say Alps?

The story follows the young Maria who is sent by the Mother Abbess to be a governess to the von Trapp family. There are seven children altogether (Liesl, Friedrich, Louisa, Kurt, Brigitta, Marta and Gretl) and Capt. Georg von Trapp (Ben Davis), who treats his household like a naval ship.

Maria quickly becomes an integral part of the children's lives — teaching them beautiful music and songs like "Do Re Mi," "My Favorite Things" and "The Lonely Goatherd" — and eventually becomes quite integral to Capt. von Trapp's life.

In addition to the talented adult performers (Did I mention just how awesome Ashley Brown was?), the actors playing the von Trapp kids looked as if they were having the greatest time.

When I mentioned to parents that I was taking CC, the big question was about the Nazi element that so many people tend to forget is part of the story. Yes, the story takes place during World War II Austria as the Nazis are moving in from Germany.

While that element plays are larger role in the film version of the story, the Nazi storyline certainly figures in to the musical. There is one particular scene, when the Captain sings "Edelweiss," that drives home the regime's influence in a striking visual way. That said, there's no violence or harsh language, and that part seems much smaller than in the film. Just be prepared to answer any questions about that infamous flag.

CC and I had so much fun, and it was such an amazing mother-daughter outing where we could sing all the way home.

To make it even more special, Kendall's Brasserie and Bar at the Music Center is offering a special themed children's menu (think Vienna chicken schnitzel and apple strudel, among other offerings) during the run of the show.

"The Sound of Music"
Through October 31
Ahmanson Theatre at the Music Center
135 N. Grand Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90012
Buy tickets (Starting at $50)

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