The Hartke Theater is Alive With The Sound Of Music


Image Courtesy of Mariana Barillas

By Tiffani Stitz

The Rome School of Music, Drama, and Art at The Catholic University of America opened its sold-out production of “The Sound of Music”on November 11 and 12. The production is set to have two more performances on November 17 and November 18, and it is one you do not want to miss! 

This production of “The Sound of Music” is one of the biggest shows that Catholic University has done recently, selling out 500 tickets for every performance. Audience members at “The Sound of Music” were very excited to view  this production, as it has been highly anticipated by both The Rome School students and the Brookland community for over a year. 

“The best thing about The Sound of Music as a whole is how universally adored it is. I haven’t met a single person that doesn’t know at least one song from the show,”said Mia Gullo, junior Musical Theater major who is in the Ensemble and acts as the Dance Captain of this production.

The story of “The Sound of Music” presents the character of Maria – a governess who takes care of the Von Trapp children before deciding if she wants to continue working there or go back to the Abbey in order to become a nun. After she falls in love with widow Captain Von Trapp and the two get married, they are faced with a decision to join the Nazi party and follow Nazi orders so that  Captain Von Trapp can commission the Navy. The family must make a life-changing decision on whether or not to follow Nazi orders, even if it goes against their morals. 

The cast of this production was very cohesive, and all members worked beautifully together to create a remarkable performance. Maria, played by Emma Markey, a junior Musical Theater major, found a unique way to portray all the parts that make Maria. Markey displayed the complexities of Maria, a young and quirky girl living in a fast-changing world, who is somehow able to redefine what it means to be a family – no matter what it takes.

The relationship between Liesel, played by Alex Lopez, a senior musical theater major, and Rolf, played by Gabriel Blank, a junior musical theater major, is a great representation of young love. Their duet of “Sixteen Going On Seventeen” shows the versatility of both performers; their joint ability to connect to each other through beautiful ballet sequences while simultaneously being able to connect to the story is very special, and made this number one of the best in the show. 

Heavy themes are juxtaposed by the duet of Max, played by Ethan Turbyfill, a junior Musical Theater major, and Elsa, played by Emma Hanks, a senior musical theater major. Their duet brings to light important issues through a comedic lens. 

An element of this show that makes it so sacred to our community is the presence of the nuns in this musical, and the portrayal of how selfless and dedicated they are to the community and to each other. Olivia Buckley, a senior musical theater major playing the role of Mother Abbess, embodied this role perfectly; Her powerful voice when singing “Climb Every Mountain” was one of the highlights of this production, and was balanced beautifully with her ability to display the definition of compassion when helping out Maria and the other nuns in the show. Buckley completely understood who this character was, and her hard work in this role did not go unnoticed. 

“It’s nostalgic for so many people, and getting to tell this story in this role is just so special. It’s definitely one of the best shows we’ve done here in a while, and getting to work with such a talented group of people is exactly what you hope for when coming to theatre school,” said Buckley.

What distinguishes this production from others at Catholic University, however, was the involvement of children from the Brookland community, who played the Von Trapp children. The children completed this production, and bringing together the Catholic University and Brookland communities made this production very special. 

“Getting to connect the Brookland community with the music school was so special for all involved. What was especially cool was the fact that they brought in audiences that otherwise probably wouldn’t come to see our CUA shows. Not to mention what a cool experience this must have been for all of them, as they’re just starting out their theater careers,” said Buckley.

The ensemble brought all of the pieces together of this amazing production and contributed to the show’s beautiful sound. The show opens with all of the nuns singing sacred music; tight harmonies and the beautiful tones of their voices made this show captivating from its start.

The music by Rodgers and Hammerstein played during the show is very famous due to the musical’s years of long-standing success and is familiarity to audiences of all ages. Famous songs such as “My Favorite Things”, “Do-Re-Mi”, and “The Lonely Goatherd” were very well performed in this production, and were all given the honor they deserved. The soundtrack is one of the many elements that make it such a beloved show by all generations and can be recognized by people all over the world. 

Catholic University had a full orchestra for this production led by Bryan Lilley, head of the Musical Theater Department. This orchestra was very talented and embodied the sound of this musical perfectly.  

“It has been extremely rewarding to practice with an orchestra that is bigger than most on Broadway. They sound so beautiful and add so much character to the show,” said Gullo.

This musical, while hidden behind the classic and upbeat songs, has very heavy and important themes that replicate the reality of many people during this dark time in history. 

“Sound of Music is obviously a beloved classic, but I particularly love being a part of this show because of its overarching message of the perseverance of love and how allowing yourself to be loved is to be changed,” said Ethan Turbyfill, who plays Max in the production. 

This show was yet another success for the Rome School of Music, and is one that will be remembered for years to come.

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