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Hot temps can't quell success of 'The Sound of Music' at K.C. Starlight

“The Sound of Music,” by Rodgers and Hammerstein opens July 25 and runs through July 31 at Kansas City’s Starlight Theatre, the second largest outdoor venue in the USA.
“The Sound of Music,” by Rodgers and Hammerstein opens July 25 and runs through July 31 at Kansas City’s Starlight Theatre, the second largest outdoor venue in the USA.
Bob Compton and courtesy of Starlight Theatre

"The Sound of Music" at Kansas City's Starlight Theatre

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The Alpine adventures of the Von Trapp family and their escape from the hands of Nazi-controlled Austria sets the tone for the upcoming production of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s beloved classic, “The Sound of Music,” at Starlight Theatre from July 25-31 with a combination of Broadway and local actors performing in the Starlight-produced show.

The Rodgers and Hammerstein final collaboration, "The Sound of Music" opened to a near capacity crowd at Kansas City, Missouri's Starlight Theatre for a one-week run beginning July 25.
Bob Compton and courtesy of Starlight Theatre

The classic musical from Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II is the fourth production of Starlight's 2014 Broadway season. The family-friendly blockbuster opened Friday, July 25 and runs seven consecutive nights through Thursday, July 31. A special Monday night performance is scheduled for July 28.

Opening night proved the draw of the classic show with the V.I.P. dining area packed by 6:30 for dinner. All inside tables were full and only outdoor dining was availalbe in in 95 degree heat. But, the area lies in a shaded area and comforts guests with umbrellad tables. A breeze also aided diners prior to the show’s overature.

Opening night brought a mega-crowd to the ampitheater that seats nearly 8,000 persons. The venue appeared to be at 95 percent capacity when all the show began.

"The Sound of Music" tells the classic story of the stern Captain von Trapp discovering a new love for his children when a young, strong-willed governess, Maria, brings laughter and music back into their lives.

The musical begins in Austria in the months before the 1938 Anschluss that ultimately developed into World War II. “The Sound of Music” ended the collaboration of Rodgers and Hammerstein as a fitting finale to their works. The show opened on Broadway in 1959 and has been revived numerous times since.

"We are ready to show audience members a few of Starlight's favorite things and showcase many of musical theatre's best creative staff, performers and musicians," said Rich Baker, Starlight President and CEO. "This show brings wit, warmth, gentle humor and, of course, memorable music to our stage."

“The Sound of Music” marked the first Starlight-produced musical of the year. Year past, Starlight mounted many of their productions, but as times changed, traveling road versions of musicals better fit the demands of Starlight Theatre and Starlight attendees.

The show features a combination of New York and Kansas City talent. Students who participated in Starlight Theatre’s Blue Star Awards are a few of the features performers. Along with them, several young thespians portray most of the Von Trapp children. Other local actors and actresses fill other roles.

Heap a ton of credit to Starlight Theatre and the Creative team that produced “The Sound of Music.”

In a press release from Staright at noon, Feb. 26, “Internationally known Director Philip Wm. McKinley will direct The Sound of Music at Starlight Theatre, July 25-31. McKinley previously directed Broadway’s Spiderman: Turn Off the Dark and The Boy From Oz starring Hugh Jackman, as well as the internationally acclaimed “Mozart L’OPERA ROCK” which premiered last year in Tokyo, Japan.”

Starlight is thrilled to have Phil McKinley returning to direct our production of this beloved classic - The Sound of Music,” Donna Thomason, Interim President of Starlight Theatre, said . Phil is like family to those of us who have been a part of Starlight for many years. He’s an incredibly talented director whose career continues to rise at a staggering rate. We are very lucky he found time in his busy schedule to lead our production. Phil comes to Kansas City after finishing a great run with Spiderman on Broadway. He is known for creating impactful and memorable productions, full of heart, and I have no doubt this production will be one of the highlights of our 64th season."

“The Sound of Music” marks McKinley’s eighth production at Starlight. He previously directed three productions of “The Wizard of Oz,” (the first in 1991, starring Phyllis Diller that garnered McKinley a Kansas City Drama Desk Award for Best Director); “Peter Pan,” “Big River”; “Jekyll and Hyde”; the Kopit/Yeston “Phantom” and “Grease.”

“I’m excited to return to Kansas City and especially to be welcomed back at Starlight. It’s a magical venue unlike any other theater in the United States. I hold many fond memories of Starlight and the summers I spent with the Starlight family. I feel fortunate to have the opportunity to return to Starlight and give back to the theater that offered me support and encouragement in my early career,” McKinley said.

“I’m looking forward to the joys and challenges the outdoor theatre offers a director and to working with the cast and company that we’re assembling for one of the greatest American musical theater classics, ‘The Sound of Music’.”

The production is wonderfully conceived and tightly put together. The direction is wonderful and the cast is splendid. The voices are perfect for the show. The choreography moves freely and quickly and the director took care to fill the large stage and have action ongoing so that actors do not stand idle while awaiting the next line.

The show moves well and the costumes and set design add another depth to the production. Not enough can be said for this quality production. This resembles the quality Starlight Theatre established over the years. It’s a joy to see such precision and mastery return to Kansas City’s favorite venue.

Give accolades to the actors and actresses who brought the beautiful and recognizable music to life for the Starlight stage. The blend of local and New York talent fused seamlessly into this production.

What’s fun is to watch for all the local thespians to make their entrances and extis and scan for them in each scene. What a great show to join and produce at Starlight.

The show comes with the highest recommendations–yes–even in the hottest days of summer. It’s a spectacular evening under the stars. Do not miss this exquisite production of “The Sound of Music.”

The cast includes: Maria, Analisa Leaming; The Mother Abbess, Suzanne Ishee; Sister Berthe, Cathy Barnett, Sister Margaretta Judy Simmons, Sister Sophia, Becky Barta; Captain Georg von Trapp Tom Galantich; Franz - the Butler, Kip Niven, Frau Schmidt - the Housekeeper, Kathleen Warfel; Liesl von Trapp, Claire Charland; Friedrich von Trapp, Brendan Hulla; Louisa von Trapp, Megan Walstrom; Kurt von Trapp, Cam Burns; Brigitta von Trapp, Fiona Scott; Marta von Trapp, Josephine Pellow; Gretl von Trapp, Delilah Rose Pellow; Rolf Gruber, Seth Jones; Elsa Schraeder, Glory Crampton, Ursula, Nancy Nail; Max Detweiler, James Judy; Herr Zeller, Bruce Roach; Frau Zeller, Melinda Macdonald; Baron Elberfeld, Tim Scott; Baroness Elberfeld, Lauren Braton; A New Postulant, Molly Denninghoff; Admiral von Schreiber, John Rensenhouse.

Ensemble: Cathy Barnett, Becky Barta, Daniel Beeman, Lauren Braton, Elliot Harrison Brown, Shea Coffman, Molly Denninghoff, Eric Geil, Cheryl Hodges, Sarah Labarr, Hanna Leigh, Kathryn Long, Melinda Macdonald, Nancy Nail, Kym Chambers Otto, John Rensenhouse, Casi Riegle, Tim Scott, Judy Simmons. Dance Captain: Hanna Leigh.

Blue Star All-star Teen Ensemble: Joann Armstrong, Nehemiah Deason, Joey Parker, Andrea Strickler, Mariah Studebaker, Alec Walberg.

The original Broadway production opened in 1959 and ran for over 1450 performances, according to the International Broadway Database website. Subsequent production ran almost 500 more performances.

For more information, visit the Starlight Theatre website.