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THINGS – Madison Bentivegna (“Marta”), Hammond; Jessica Davis (“Maria”),
Ponchatoula, and Macy Marionneaux (“Gretl”), Baton Rouge, sing “My Favorite
Things” during a rehearsal for the Nov. 1-5 Southeastern Louisiana University
Opera-Music Theatre Workshop’s production of “The Sound of Music.”
CAST – The young actors in “Eryn’s cast” will portray the von Trapp children
in the Nov. 2, 4 and 5 evening (7:30 p.m.) performances of the Southeastern
Louisiana University Fanfare production of “The Sound of Music” at the
Pottle Music Building Auditorium. From left, front, are Morgan Arledge
(“Marta), St. Amant; Sarah Osterberger (“Maria), Baton Rouge; Rachel Knaps
(“Gretl”), Hammond; Hayley Whitney (“Brigitta”), Mandeville; back, Bret
Wagner (“Kurt”), Hammond; Eryn Minor (“Leisl”), Luling; Christopher Ekker
(“Friedrich”), Ponchatoula, and Gabby Acosta (“Louisa”), Ponchatoula.
– Gabby Acosta (“Louisa”), Rachel Knaps (“Gretl”), and Bret Wagner (“Kurt”)
sing “Do-Re-Mi” during a rehearsal for the upcoming Southeastern Louisiana
University Opera-Music Theatre Workshop production of “The Sound of Music.”
CAST – The “Margaret’s cast of von Trapp children who will appear in the
Southeastern Louisiana University Fanfare production of “The Sound of Music”
on the evenings of Nov. 1 and 3 and at the 2:30 p.m. Nov. 5 matinee are,
from left, front, Madison Bentivegna (“Marta), Hammond; Macy Marionneaux
(“Gretl”), Baton Rouge; Erin Holloway (“Brigitta”), Hammond; Dylan Passman
(“Kurt”), Baton Rouge; back, Margaret Davis (“Leisl”), Walker; Christopher
Ekker (“Friedrich), Ponchatoula; Noelle Downing (“Louisa”), Hammond; and
Jessica Davis (“Maria”), Ponchatoula.
AND GRETL – Sarah Osterberger, a Southeastern Louisiana University student
from Baton Rouge who portrays Maria in the university’s Nov. 1-5 production
of “The Sound of Music,” rehearses with her youngest cast member, Rachel
Knaps, “Gretl,” of Hammond, as director Larry Gray and Eryn Minor, “Leisl,”
of Luling look on in the background.
DIRECTION – Larry Gray, director of the Southeastern Louisiana University
Opera-Music Theatre Workshop’s “The Sound of Music,” which will be performed
Nov. 1-5 at the Pottle Music Building Auditorium, gives stage direction
to the “Eryn” cast of von Trapp children. Standing at left are Bret Wagner
and Christopher Ekker; on the bed are Hayley Whitney and Gabby Acosta (foreground),
Morgan Arledge, Sarah Osterberger, and Rachael Knaps.
“THE SOUND OF MUSIC” IS SERIOUS
FUN FOR “VON TRAPP KIDS”
HAMMOND – “Eryn’s cast”
and “Margaret’s cast” – that’s how the director, crew and their fellow
actors keep straight the 13 children in the Southeastern Louisiana University
Opera-Music Theatre Workshop’s Fanfare production of “The Sound of Music.”
Eryn Minor of Luling and
Margaret Davis of Walker are double-cast in the role of Leisl, the eldest
of the legendary musical’s seven singing siblings. The two Leisls share
one “brother” –Christopher Ekker of Ponchatoula, who portrays 13-year-old
Friedrich in both casts. But they have one each of the five younger Von
Trapp sisters and brothers.
When “The Sound of Music”
runs Nov. 1-5 at the Pottle Music Building Auditorium, the “Eryns” will
perform on Tuesday and Thursday evenings and at the 2:30 p.m. Saturday
matinee, while the “Margarets” will take the stage on Wednesday, Friday
and Saturday nights. Curtain time for the evening performances is 7:30
Also in the “Eryn” cast
are Gabby Acosta of Ponchatoula, Louisa; and, Bret Wagner, Hammond, Kurt;
Haley Whitney, Mandeville, Brigitta; Morgan Arledge, St. Amant, Marta;
and Rachael Knaps, Gretl.
“Margaret” cast members are Noelle Downing, Hammond, Louisa;
Dylan Passman, Baton Rouge, Kurt; Erin Holloway, Brigitta, Hammond; Madison
Bentivegna, Marta, Hammond; and Macy Marionneaux, Baton Rouge, Gretl.
The blockbuster movie version
of the Rogers and Hammerstein musical classic, which was released 40 years
ago, was marketed as “The Happiest Sound in the World.” And the young actors
who portray the von Trapp crew are more than happy to have landed what
they consider choice roles – parts that give them a chance to “say lines”
as well as sing.
“This is my favorite musical,”
said 12-year-old Gabby Acosta of Ponchatoula. “I have been wanting to do
this since I was really little.”
Gabby is one of three von
Trapps who have had previous roles in Southeastern productions. She played
“Amarylis” in last summer’s “The Music Man.” Another Southeastern
production veteran is Bret Wagner of Hammond, 11, a student at the Southeastern
Lab School, who was in the 2004 summer show, “Oliver!” Dylan Passman
of Baton Rouge, 12, was one of the production’s double-cast Olivers.
Opera-Music Theatre Workshop
Director Charles Effler said 87 children tried out for the roles, with
about three dozen being called back for a second audition.
“I told the parents that
first night,” Effler said, “that a bunch of kids were going to go home
without a role. I wanted the parents to know, so that they could help their
kids understand, that they were all excellent. A lot of the choices came
down to who had the right ‘look’ as well as the right talent.”
A Southeastern vocal education
major in her first stage role, Eryn Minor did look the part of 16-year-old
Leisl, which is a bit ironic, since she is actually 24.
“When the kids found that
out, they freaked,” Minor laughed. “I’m a vocal ed major because I love
kids. I’m having so much fun working with these guys – and they like me,
Minor said she and her
fellow Leisl are getting a kick out of their big number – “Going On Sixteen,”
a song and dance duet with Rolf, played by Nathan Constant of Mereaux in
Eryn’s cast and Simon Pfeil of Hammond in Margaret’s.
“Simon is the choreographer
for the show and he’s the only dancer between the four of us, but we’re
having fun with it,” Minor said.
Like Minor, each of the
kids chimes in with their “The Sound of Music” moment. The word “fun” is
prominent in all their accounts, from Bret’s description of trying to stop
laughing when he is supposed to be hiding in fear behind a headstone to
little Macy’s mischievous glee at getting to “jump up on Friedrich’s back.”
They know, however, that
a successful production is more than fun and games.
“We still can have fun,”
said Bret, “but we know that we have to take it seriously.”
Getting them to do just
that has been a new challenge for Director Larry Gray and Effler, who is
musical director, conductor and producer. Both have worked for years with
casts of college students and other adults.
“The kids are really talented;
they’re wonderful,” Effler said, “but this is new for us. There’s just
no way of getting around the need for repetition at rehearsals, and repetition
is tough on the kids’ attention spans. We’ve had to re-think the way we
work, and try to keep changing the activities, making a game of it.”
doubles the work, Effler is firmly committed to it. He pointed out that
almost every character in the Southeastern production is sharing a role.
“I always double cast because
it gives more people the opportunity to participate,” he said. “With our
Southeastern students, stage experience is part of their education.”
The kids roles are double
cast with the same “the more the merrier” philosophy, but for practical
reasons as well.
“This is not Los Angeles,”
Effler laughed. “If something happens and one of the kids can’t go on,
I can’t run out at the last minute and find another kid who knows the role.
Double-casting kids is a must!”
General admission tickets for “The Sound of Music” are $12, adults;
and $8, senior citizens, Southeastern faculty and staff, and non-Southeastern
students. Southeastern students are admitted free with their university
Tickets are on sale at
the Fanfare box office located in the lobby of the Columbia Theatre for
the Performing Arts, 220 E. Thomas St. in downtown Hammond, 985- 543-4371.
Box office hours are weekdays, noon-5 p.m. Tickets can also be ordered
online 24-hours in advance at www.columbiatheatre.org.
Tickets will also be on sale at the door one hour before performance.