I left the Artists' Theatre last weekend, humming and feeling pretty nostalgic.
I had just seen Laguna Beach High School's production of "The Sound of Music,"and I couldn't help but be transported back in time to my own high school days, when I was a "drama kid" and all the world was my stage.
It's been so many years, I'd nearly forgotten that part of my life. My dreams of being an actress never really got much farther than my leading role as Judas (yes, that Judas) in my Catholic school's annual Easter show.
But, my dubious acting skills aside, I spent many hours working behind the scenes on some pretty fun shows. I remember how close a theater cast and crew can become. I remember all the frustration and stress that pops up before opening night, but I also remember how exhilarating it is to hear the thunderous applause and know all the hard work has paid off.
And it indeed paid off last Friday night for the Park Avenue Players.
Despite my love for musicals, I hadn't seen a high school production since "Godspell" my senior year, more than a decade ago. Since then I've seen numerous stellar shows at places like the Segerstrom Center for the Arts, the Pantages Theatre in Los Angeles and the San Diego Civic Theatre.
So I wasn't sure what to expect from the young cast of "The Sound of Music," but by the end of night, I was impressed.
Anchored by the captivating Chandler Davis in the lead role of Maria, the cast ranges in age from teacher Gary Shapiro and Principal Joanne Culverhouse as the baron and baroness, to kindergartner Isabelle Lalouette as the youngest von Trapp child, Gretl. (Isabelle was an adorable scene-stealer, especially notable since the show surely lasted well past her bedtime).
The show largely takes place at Captain von Trapp's home in Austria in 1938, and it is a perfect mix of humor, romance and history. There are bound to be a few serious moments in a story involving Nazis and the German occupation in World War II, but these are balanced nicely with rousing musical interludes.
I found the show to be at its best when all seven of the von Trapp children were onstage and singing. When they began "Do-Re-Mi" in the first act, I honestly never wanted the number to end. The enthusiasm from the cast was contagious. (I will admit to playing that song in my car on the drive home, singing along at the top of my lungs, although not quite as well as the von Trapps, I'm sure.) Equally fun were "The Lonely Goatheard" and "So Long, Farewell" later in the first act.
While all the von Trapp kids were outstanding — especially Sarah Busic as Liesl, the eldest von Trapp child — other standout performances for me included Elan Kramer as Max, a von Trapp family friend; Karina Parker as Elsa, Captain von Trapp's would-be fiancee; and Haley Castuera as Mother Abbess, Maria's mentor of sorts at the Nonnberg Abbey.
I paid particular attention to the set design. Experience tells me that, behind the scenes, students and volunteers must have painstakingly painted the backdrops and the intricate stained glass windows of the Abbey, and their efforts did not go to waste.
FOR THE RECORD:
[The sets were, in fact, rented, not painted by the student crew.]
The costume design was also very effective; I found myself wanting to steal several of the fancy dresses worn in the party scene near the end of Act 1.
There's only one weekend left to catch "The Sound of Music."
The show is now one of "my favorite things," and if you see it, I'll think you'll agree.
KELLY PARKER is the interim city editor of the Coastline Pilot. She can be reached at (714) 966-4682 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter: @KellyParkerTCN.
If You Go
What: "The Sound of Music"
Where: Artists' Theatre at Laguna Beach High School, 625 Park Ave.
When: 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 2:30 p.m. Sunday
Cost: $10 for students, $15 for adults and $20 for premium seating