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REVIEW: 'Sound of Music' at the Paper Mill brings holiday cheer

soundofmusic120312_optBY STUART DUNCAN
NEWJERSEYNEWSROOM.COM
OFF BROADWAY REVIEW

When “The Sound of Music” opened on Broadway in 1959, the critics were decidedly split. One group loved the music, fell in love with Julie Andrews all over again, and adored each and every one of the seven children of the Von Trapp family. Another group griped that the story was too saccharine, that the Nazis were under emphasized and that the show suffered from “the cutes.”

The public took the show to its heart, made it a massive hit and then, a masterpiece. The current production at Papermill Playhouse in Millburn will still turn heads. It is one of those rare revivals—a flawless production—a superb company—sensational singing and dancing – exceptional direction from veteran Papermill favorite James Brennan.

And you can count on the public rushing for holiday tickets. As a matter of fact, you might well consider dashing for the phone right now. Please be prepared with alternate dates, especially for matinees, especially before Christmas. (I’ll wait for you.)

Meanwhile we can pay as few tributes to the sensational company: to Elena Shaddow who plays Maria without a trace of Ms. Andrews and makes the role her own; to Suzanne Ishee, as the Mother Abbess who sings “Climb Every Mountain” as you may never have heard it (the word “hymn” came to mind). Ben Davis portrays Captain Von Trapp, apparently completely comfortable in opera and Shakespeare, and here plays the role as never before seen. Edward Hibbert, as Max, brings a touch of fun to the tale. And the seven children (and pardon while I name them: Chelsea Morgan Stock, Gracie Beardsley, Greta Clark, Maya Fortgang, Amanda Harris, Sean McManus and Hunter A. Kovacs) are extraordinary. 

James Brennan provides wonderful direction and choreography for those wonderful images of the children surrounding Maria, for “Doe, a Deer." 

“The Sound of Music” continues at Papermill Playhouse, through December 30. Wed. & Fri, at 7 p.m.; Thurs., Sat. & Sun. at 1:30 and 7 p.m. (973) 376-4343 or papermill.org.

 

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