Rodgers and Hammerstein’s The Sound of Music is a classic musical. Based on the true story of the musical Von Trapp family in 1938, the show was a hit in 1959. It focuses on the widowed Captain Von Trapp, his seven singing children and Maria, an strong-willed postulant who comes as a governess then abandons her religious calling when she and the Captain fall in love. The family’s music helps them to combat Nazi oppression in Austria.
A popular 1965 movie, The Sound of Music is a beloved show with music that most everyone knows. That makes it a good choice for the holidays, which is why Jersey Productions chose it to conclude its third season. It’s selling well, based on the familiar title: The final weekend has only a few seats remaining for performances on Thursday and Saturday (2 and 8 p.m.) and Friday evening (8 p.m.). A lot of people will see it, but I suspect they’ll wonder why this Sound of Music doesn’t really sing.
The production has some excellent individual performances — Kelly Pekar is a sweet Maria and Ty Yadzinski plays Captain Von Trapp with a lot of starch and smoke; Dianne Robinson offers a stirring Mother Abbess, and Liz Vosmeier is the arch Frau Schraeder who can’t land the Captain — but they seldom truly connect with one another. The children’s ensemble is charming (five of the seven kids are double-cast and perform alternately), but they aren’t enough to carry the show.
The production feels under-rehearsed, and the nuns’ choral performances (“Preludium” and “Nun’s Processional”), often the show’s loveliest moments, feel ragged. On opening night, microphones and amplified sound behaved erratically. Sets are minimal — an amateurishly painted hedge with oddly tilted perspective is the backdrop for numerous scenes, including one strangely overhung by a chandelier.
This perfunctory performance, offered minimally and expeditiously, fails to demonstrate why The Sound of Music was a hit a half-century ago.
THE SOUND OF MUSIC, presented by Jersey Productions at the Aronoff’s Jarson-Kaplan Theater, continues through Saturday.