May 15 2013 01:42 PM

San Diego Musical Theatre's seriously sweet classic tops our coverage of local plays

Allison Spratt Pearce and the von Trapp kids
Photo by Ken Jacques

Any way you cut it, The Sound of Music is as sugary sweet as one of those cupcake joints, just not as trendy. The old-fashioned family musical to end all old-fashioned family musicals was the last collaboration between Rodgers & Hammerstein. It may not have been their best show, but it arguably was their most popular.

I caught San Diego Musical Theatre's new production of The Sound of Music on Mother's Day, and the matinée audience was filled with mothers, fathers and lots of kids. Many of the latter grew restless by the time the 90-minute first act was over, but if your children have the endurance and the attention span, they'll likely enjoy the songfest that includes the childlike "Do-Re-Mi," the fanciful "My Favorite Things" and "The Lonely Goatherd," which has to be the silliest Rodgers & Hammerstein tune of all time (the yodeling doesn't help) but a kid-pleaser nonetheless.

The star of the SDMT production is the 23-piece orchestra directed by Don Le Master, which faithfully recreates The Sound of Music's most affecting songs, among them the title tune and "Climb Ev'ry Mountain," the near-operatic anthem that closes Act 1 and the finale. Allison Spratt Pearce is both earnest and jaunty as Fraulein Maria, and her vocals are pure if not wowzer. The two wowzer voices are those of Randall Dodge in the comparatively thankless role of Captain von Trapp and Victoria Strong as the Mother Abbess who gets to belt out "Climb Ev'ry Mountain" to the rafters.

The kids are, well, the kids. They sound just fine throughout, though some grownups will feel cavities forming as some of the numbers featuring the young ones are delivered.

Just as the Oscar-winning film adaptation was long, so is this production, but then you know that going in—or you should. Director / choreographer Todd Nielsen moves it all along best he can, and there are no dead spots.

The score's little treasure, "Edelweiss," feels underplayed, sandwiched between a reprise of "Do-Re-Mi" and the von Trapp family's musical ruse to escape the Nazis. (In the film, it was also sung earlier in the story.) Even so, it's still the prettiest song ever written about a flower that was not a rose.

The Sound of Music runs through May 26 at the Birch North Park Theatre. $26-$56.

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Fiddler on the Roof: The romantic notions of a workingclass Russian Jew's daughters are a total pain in his traditional butt. Opens May 19 at Lamb's Players Theatre in Coronado.

Now Playing

An Ideal Husband: Oscar Wilde's play, set in 1890s London, follows a scheming woman's attempt to blackmail a member of the House of Commons. Through May 19 at Patio Playhouse in Escondido.

Zombie Prom: A high-school rebel, who committed suicide after his girl reluctantly dumped him, comes back to life to reunite with his true love. It's a musical. Presented by Pickwick Players, it runs through May 19 at Moxie Theatre in Rolando.

The Sound of Music: Reportedly, rolling hills, animated by music, come to life in a story about an aspiring nun and an Austrian family at the onset of World War II. Presented by San Diego Musical Theatre, it runs through May 29 at the Birch North Park Theatre.

Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo: Ion Theatre Company explores the Iraq war through a story about two American soldiers and a talking tiger freed from the Baghdad Zoo. Through June 1 at BLKBOX Theatre in Hillcrest.

I Love My Computer Because My Friends Live in It: The new musical by Broadway Vista co-owner Randall Hickman focuses on five women and their electronic-communication and social-media exploits. Through June 1 at the Broadway Theatre in Vista.

Other Desert Cities: A novelist visits her famous parents in Palm Springs amid her plans to publish a memoir that unearths an unpleasant family secret. Through June 2 at The Old Globe Theatre in Balboa Park.

The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee: Six adults play quirky middle-school students in a musical comedy that spans the length of a spelling contest. Through June 8 at OnStage Playhouse in Chula Vista.

Be a Good Little Widow: In a melancholy comedy, a young woman's unsatisfying marriage ends early when her husband dies, leaving her to cope with her heard-to-please mother-in-law and learn a thing or two about herself. Through June 9 at The Old Globe Theatre's Sheryl and Harvey White Stage in Balboa Park.

Seascape: Tension surrounds a long-married couple when they encounter a couple of human-size, talking reptiles on the beach in Edward Albee's Pulitzer Prize-winning play. Through June 9 at New Village Arts Theatre in Carlsbad.

Crime Pays: A radio game show with dastardly overtones, served up with dinner, is presented by Mystery Cafe at Imperial House restaurant in Bankers Hill.


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