The Sound of Music by Dock Mennonite Academy in Souderton, PA
November 15, 2018
Review submitted by Patrick McCann of Harriton High School
In an increasingly divided political landscape, music’s power to break down barriers and bring people together is more important than ever. This fact is emphasized in Dock Mennonite Academy’s production of The Sound of Music as its characters use music to reconstruct a fractured family.
This classic musical, written by Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein in 1959 and based on a true story, is set in Austria right before its annexation. It follows restless postulant Maria as she attempts to warm the heart of the stiff Captain von Trapp and bring joy to children who have forgotten what it is like to be loved. While her relationship with the Captain is strained at first, she soon begins to melt his icy exterior and show him the power of music.
The highlight of Dock Mennonite Academy’s production was its stunning vocals, which more than made up for the occasional dips in energy during extended scenes. Another high point was the set, which was impressively complex for a high school production.
Alexa Kennel (Maria) was the heart of the show. Her nuanced acting made the audience really feel her initial resistance to falling in love with the Captain, and her voice never failed to impress. Miguel Santiago (Captain von Trapp) provided a subdued yet still moving counterpoint to Kennel’s infectious energy, using rigid movements and stiff mannerisms to convey his character’s initial inability to move on.
The nuns, led by Olivia Celenza (Mother Abbess), were the show’s vocal high point, skillfully working character moments into their singing in “Maria” and “Climb Ev’ry Mountain.” Greta Schrag (Liesl) and David Michel (Rolf) were extremely genuine in the heartfelt song “Sixteen Going on Seventeen.” While the cast’s energy dipped at times, the ensemble always managed to pull together and deliver show stopping musical numbers.
Although the show required many complicated set changes, the stage crew did an admirable and effective job at completing them. The sound team, in a similarly difficult situation considering the extensive cast and consistently large amount of people on stage, also did an admirable job fighting through several technical difficulties.
All in all, Dock Mennonite Academy delivered a heartfelt performance that emphasized the power of music to bring people together with fittingly impressive vocals, showing that, as the Captain sings, “love can survive” even the bitterest disagreements.
Review submitted by Nina Gold of Harriton High School
If the dogs are biting, the bees are stinging, and you’re feeling sad, then Dock Mennonite Academy’s production of The Sound of Music is the show for you! Cast and crew came together to perform a heartfelt rendition of the timeless classic of love, family, and standing strong in the face of hate.
Loosely based on memoirs of Maria von Trapp, The Sound of Music tells the tale of a novice nun who takes on the job of a governess for a large family in Austria in 1938. After falling in love, first with the children and then with their widowed father, she and the von Trapps take their stand against the Nazi takeover of Austria. The musical opened on Broadway in 1959 to great critical acclaim, and has since received multiple revivals and adaptations, most notably a 1965 film version starring Julie Andrews.
With an intricate score and profound message, performing The Sound of Music is a significant challenge for any high school to tackle. Nevertheless, Dock Mennonite Academy handled themselves with grace and efficiency.
Alexa Kennel as Maria delivered a genuine and moving performance, and her pleasant vocals brought Rogers and Hammerstein’s beautiful music to life. Her warm energy was balanced by Miguel Santiago’s admirable portrayal of the cold Captain von Trapp; together, their strong presence and noticeable chemistry captured the hearts of the audience.
Standouts among the supporting characters included Ben Graham and Hannah Landis as Max Detweiler and Elsa Schraeder, respectively. Graham’s comic timing and enthusiastic delivery inspired hearty laughter, and Landis’ sweet demeanor added depth to her haughty character. Additionally, the large ensemble of nuns enchanted the audience with their remarkable harmonies and group dynamic.
The stage crew, led by stage managers Rachel McMichael and Dalton Moore, faced the challenge of moving an impressively complex set. Although some set changes were slightly lengthy, both cast and crew conducted themselves professionally and maintained a smooth energy. Despite some minor setbacks with sound and light cues, the technical elements of the show did not detract from the overall performance and added a certain amount of elegance and charm to the stage.
In today’s political climate, when anti-Semitism and prejudice are re-emerging at alarming rates, Dock Mennonite Academy’s production of The Sound of Music provided a refreshing reminder of the power of love in the face of overwhelming hate.