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October 23, 2009
Vol. 51 No. 6

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'The hills are alive' at Susquehanna

Courtesy of Chris Balbi
Practice makes perfect-- Cast members Tim Gonzalez, junior, and Sarah Kirk, sophomore, rehearse for the university's production of Rodgers and Hammerstein's "The Sound of Music." The musical opens on Thursday, Oct. 28 and will run for two consecutive weekends.
The Susquehanna Department of Theatre will present seven performances of Rodgers and Hammerstein's Tony award-winning musical "The Sound of Music." Held in the Degenstein Theater, the show will run for two weekends, with the first performance on Thursday, Oct. 29 at 8 p.m.

According to a University Communications' press release, "The Sound of Music" is based on Maria Von Trapp's memoir, "The Story of the Trapp Family Singers." Its stage adaptation was the final collaborative work of composer Richard Rodgers and lyricist Oscar Hammerstein II before Hammerstein's death in 1960.

According to the Rodgers and Hammerstein Organization Web site,, the motion picture version of "The Sound of Music" is the most popular movie musical of all time.

Based loosely on the actual events from Von Trapp's book, the musical juxtaposes elements of romance and family with the looming Nazi threat in Austria during the 1930s.

Junior Melanie Harker, who will play Maria Von Trapp, described the musical as "really beautiful."

According to Doug Powers, associate professor of theatre and artistic director for the production, "The musical is about not being passive, but taking responsibility for your own destiny."

Along with the well-known title number, the production features the songs "Do-Re-Mi," "Climb Ev'ry Mountain," "Sixteen Going on Seventeen" and "So Long, Farewell."

According to senior and stage manager Ashley Harman, the production is expected to attract a large audience. To accommodate the number of anticipated viewers, seven performances have been scheduled instead of the usual five. The extra two shows were added because every performance of last year's fall musical, "Fiddler on the Roof," was completely sold out.

According to junior Audra Kobbe who works at the box office, nearly one thousand tickets to "The Sound of Music" had been sold prior to fall break.

The musical, like all of the university's theatre productions, is made possible through the efforts of students, who both act in and manage the performances.

The performances themselves are entirely student run," said Erik Viker, associate professor of theatre and technical director for "The Sound of Music."

Viker explained that the students are given this responsibility so that they can "learn to do things by doing them."

Viker noted that as opening night neared, members of the cast and crew were meeting the demands of the schedule and the production's technical requirements.

"Every production brings with it an entirely new set of challenges," Viker said.

Viker explained that this particular production is challenging because it is a "fly-heavy design." The unusual amount of suspended scenery resulted in the need for an extra five technicians on the production staff.

In addition to the production staff, "The Sound of Music" has a sizeable cast. Harman said many of the cast members are being trained as understudies as a precaution due to the potentially disruptive flu season.

Powers said, "We have a large cast of almost 60 performers, 12 of them children."

The use of children is another unusual aspect of this production. There are three sets of four children who rehearse for the production on a rotating basis. The children were cast from families within the university community.

"The Sound of Music" will be performed during Family Weekend on Thursday, Oct. 29 and Friday, Oct. 30 at 8 p.m., on Saturday, Oct. 31 at 2:30 p.m. and 8 p.m. and on Sunday, Nov. 1 at 2:30 p.m. It will also be performed during Homecoming weekend on Friday, Nov. 6 and Saturday, Nov. 7 at 8 p.m.

Tickets for the musical are available at the box office in the Degenstein Campus Center.
Admission is free for Susquehanna students, $20 for adults, $15 for seniors and $10 for non-Susquehanna students.

According to sophomore cast member Chris Balbi, "It's one show not to miss."


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