The young actors cast as Captain von Trapp's children in the Franklin Performing Arts Company's production of The Sound of Music have spent countless hours rehearsing together to bring the beloved Rodgers and Hammerstein musical theater classic to the stage this weekend.
The performers were chosen from an open casting call that drew 150 children and teens for the seven parts. The von Trapp children appear in half of the 20 scenes in the show and have almost as many wardrobe changes (an average of 7 costumes, depending upon the role). Ranging in age from 7 to 16 and from five local communities, the kids step into their roles with varying levels of training and experience, but have bonded sharing this collaborative experience as the iconic brood.
Catherine Oliviere (Marta), age 9, from North Easton, comes to her role with previous community theater experience and has modeled for Hasbro and Lilly Pulitzer, while Grace Tucceri (Gretl), from Franklin, is new to musical theater and will take the stage for the first time. Though short on experience, the 7-year-old has boundless enthusiasm. Asked to name her favorite song or scene, Grace heartily replies, "I love everything!"
Asked the same question, Katherine sites "Do-Re-Mi" and the von Trapp's introduction to Maria. "It's the first time the audience is seeing and getting to know our characters," she explains.
Speak to any of the seven about a favorite aspect of their experience and you're likely to hear the same answer: getting to know the other kids. Whether hanging out between scenes or learning the score's harmonies, these young performers have become fast friends. "I've really liked acting as a family," said Michael Fajardo (Friedrich), age 16, from Hopkinton. This is Michael's second FPAC production. As a member of Electric Youth, he will tour Asia this summer, with concerts in Hong Kong.
"I have been so impressed by the level of talent and professionalism among the children and the way they all support each other," notes Erica Glenn (Maria). As the governess who wins the hearts of the children and their father, Glenn will share the FPAC stage with some of her students from the Franklin School for the Performing Arts (FSPA). The chance for students to perform and learn alongside professional artists is a fundamental part of FPAC's mission. FSPA Drama Instructor Nick Paone (Max Detweiler) and Shauna Martin (Mother Abbess), Instructor of Voice, are also featured in the production.
A Canadian native, Martin has performed with Canada's regional orchestras, on CBC radio and is a founding member of the popular children's show, Opera Night in Canada. "It's a great opportunity to see her perform, to see what she teaches in action, said Sam Evans (Kurt), age 13, from Medfield, of his voice teacher, Martin. "It inspires us to work hard and practice what we're taught so we might someday be able to do what our teachers do." Sam takes private lessons with Martin and is also part of her Boys' Voice class at FSPA; he is in Paone's Building Characters acting class this year as well.
"It is interesting to see him apply the techniques that he teaches in class to his own acting," Franklin's Ali Funkhouser (Liesl) said of drama teacher Paone, an Equity actor who has directed and performed in FPAC productions for more than a decade. "It's another way he teaches me." Ali has performed in the national tours of Evita and Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat and, like Michael, is an Electric Youth member.
FPAC's von Trapps also include Teagan McStay (Louisa), age 16, of Franklin and Mairead Nee (Brigitta), age 11, of Walpole, both FSPA students and veterans of multiple FPAC productions.
More than 70 children and teens will perform in The Sound of Music, as part of a Children's Festival Ensemble in the show's second act and as nuns and postulants. The thirty-voice Children's Festival Ensemble will also entertain in the lobby prior to show times with fully costumed performances of Austrian folk tunes.
FPAC will present The Sound of Music, with professional orchestra, on Saturday, March 2 at 7:30 p.m. and on Sunday, March 3 at 2 p.m. at Franklin's Thomas D. Mercer Auditorium, 224 Oak Street. Tickets cost $30, $28 and $26. To purchase tickets, call (508) 528-8668, visit the box office at The Spotlight Shop (34 Main Street, Franklin) or order online at www.FPAConline.com.