It is easy to forget that "The Sound of Music," part of the DNA of American musical theater, is based on a true story.
The classic favorite takes the stage at Minot High School-Magic City Campus today through Sunday under the direction of Alphonse Koenigsman.
Capt. Georg von Trapp, played in this production by Casey Feldner, led his family in an escape from Nazi Germany at the height of World War II using a music festival as a cover.
Submitted Photo - - Elizabeth Klingbeil as Maria, at right, standing, addresses her charges, back row, from left, Laurel Collins, Kate Hicks, McKenna Thompson, Krista Mathistad and Isabella Dobrinski and, front row, Chale Strait, left, and Connor Templeton in the Minot High School-Magic City Campus production of “The Sound of Music.”
His impetus in taking his motherless children, played by Laurel Collins, Connor Templeton, Krista Mathistad, Chale Strait, Kate Hicks, McKenna Thompson and Isabella Dobrinski, comes from Maria, played by Elizabeth Klingbeil.
Maria was a novice nun who had doubts about her vocation and was sent to test her resolve by Mother Abbess, portrayed by Hannah Wollenzien, to become a tutor to the large family. Maria drew the children out of their shells, and in doing so caused their father to fall in love with her.
"The Sound of Music" has one of the most memorable scores in the repertoire of Rogers and Hammerstein, including "My Favorite Things," "Climb Every Mountain," "Edelweiss" and of course the title song.
'The Sound of Music'
"The Sound of Music" is at the Arvel Graving Theater at Magic City campus for five performances, including matinees both Saturday and Sunday at 2 p.m. and today through Saturday at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $8 for adults, $7 for seniors and $5 for students under 18.
Koenigsman orchestrates the some 50 students involved in the production, with the help of Dawn Freeman conducting the student band ensemble, and Paula Simonson directing the staging.
"There are about 35 in the cast," he said. "It ("The Sound of Music") really worked out for the kids we have this year. For a lot of them, especially the nuns, this is their first time on stage, so that's a challenge right there. Also it relies heavily on the younger kids the family and we're lucky we have some who've been on stage before."
Dobrinski and Thompson were casual about the technical challenges of the roles.
"I've been on stage in school and the Mouse River Players," Dobrinski said. "The hardest part is the quick changes."
"I've been acting since I was 3. This is one of my favorite things to do," Thompson added. "You get to dance and sing and do your best."
Assisting behind the scenes as well as onstage are student director Kelsy Walter and stage manager/nun Hannah Harvey. Branden Evans, Jon Haskins and Shelby Leavitt are the technical crew, while Elizabeth C. Miller is credited as costumer and one of the nuns.
"We got a lot of (the wardrobe) from MRP and the college," Wollenzien said.
She is a veteran of the stage, having also acted with the Mouse River Players, Central Campus and in St. Cloud before her family moved here.
"I was surprised that the arts are so strong here in Minot," she said. "I'm really happy about that." Wollenzien, with Collins, also dances with the Rinat Mouzafarov Institute of Dance and Ballet.
"That was a concern," Koenigsman said. "They had to be gone last weekend for those performances, but they're good enough that we managed it."
Both Wollenzien and Feldner had considered their characters carefully.
"This is the first time I've had so many songs in a show," Feldner said. "It's like a lot of the plays I've done, though. Naturally there's that 'Take a deep breath; I'm ready for this' feeling before you go on, but this has a different feeling to it. It's having the lead in a big musical."
Wollenzien is happy in her role, although finds it a challenge to be so conservative and restricted.
"I've seen (the movie) so many times," she said. "I'm surprised by how different the play is from it. The same songs are there, but in different places. The dialogue is pretty much the same.
"This is the role I really wanted, and named in my audition," she said. "It's really different from roles I've played in the past."