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'The Sound of Music' at Holy Cross High School - My Review

The hills are alive with 'The Sound of Music' at Holy Cross in Waterbury. Miss Altenburger's last name was misspelled in the program and therefore in this blog. It has been corrected.

Members of the cast of 'The Sound of Music' at Holy Cross Photo by Debbie Hartley Forchielli
Members of the cast of 'The Sound of Music' at Holy Cross Photo by Debbie Hartley Forchielli
The retrospective on the last page of the program indicates that Holy Cross Student Theatre has been in existence since 1969 and has been doing a wide variety of fall plays and spring musicals since 1973. This weekend a large group of the students that attend the Catholic High School in Waterbury presented the iconic The Sound of Music in their modern auditorium and I attended the Saturday night performance.

Director Paul Whealon was assisted by Lyn Nagel and technical direction was by David Gardino. Ralph Cantito (class of '74) served as choreographer. David Irvine and Ms. Nagel were the vocal directors and Mr. Irvine served as pianist. The fine wardrobe was supervised by Ms. Nagel with assistance from Landmark Community Theatre.

Mr. Whealon decided to take a break from the modern musicals that the Holy Cross students have most recently done and venture into the classics this year. He appreciates the music and lyrics of Rogers and Hammerstein wrote for The Sound of Music and wanted the students to experience the pieces that "reach deeply into the soul of the character singing and reveal them to us." He also thanked all of  his colleagues for their contributions to the production, for without their talents, he "would be directing a silent musical in the dark with no set or costumes." He directed the show very well, with thoughtful staging for the entrance of the nuns, complete with candles, as well as the escape of the von Trapp family. Some in the audience realized that it had started to rain during the three hours that we sat in the auditorium when we saw the umbrellas thoughtfully held over the heads of the actors as they headed to the hills through an exit.

David Gardino conducted the fine pit orchestra which filled the space nicely without overpowering. Current Holy Cross students sat with two alumni, WAMS principal Leo Lavallee on trumpet and Br. Tom Sawyer CSC on French horn. Naugatuck Community Band members in the pit included Mary Schmelcke, Brenda Tousignant and Tom Storace.

The 29 members of the crew were among the most efficient I have seen in a high school production; they carefully and quickly changed the lovely set pieces designed by Mr. Gardino that were built and painted by students. It was heartbreaking that the sound system had so many dropped lines and lyrics for the majority of the students wearing wireless mics. Some voices were too loud, while others were not loud enough. The students persevered with aplomb, hopefully unaware.

The large cast worked as a team to bring to life the numerous scenes and production numbers. The young ladies sang  the Latin hymns in lovely harmony and I learned that there is a Sister Hedwig among the monastery residents. The young men did a fine job as well, especially as the group of Nazi guards at the concert. Nathan Botte, Dylawnie Woods, and Justin Sanzari were a riot as the Saengergund Trio that comes in third place at the music festival. Mr. Sanzari also played Franz Fuster on the von Trapp staff and one of the funniest bits in the show was when he gave a piggyback ride up the staircase to Gretl (played by his former Blessed Sacrament's Annie costar Grace Altenburger.)

The principals included Matt Araujo as Rolf, Jamie SaintPaul, Caroline Henry and Naugatuck's Jenna Berkowitz as featured nuns, and Jordan Ward as Max Detweiler. Emily Barker was a lovely Reverend Mother and Jordan Norkus played a regal Countess Elsa Schrader. The von Trapp children, in descending order, were played well by Leanne Raymond, Liam Palilla, Alicia Westberg, Ted Huang, Hayley Cuttitta, Julia Walters, and the adorable and talented (but not yet a Holy Cross student) Ms. Altenburger

Bradd Cyr played the stern Captain Georg von Trapp. He was a fine actor and sang (and played the guitar) nicely. As Maria, Stephanie Brown was a natural actress with a wonderful singing voice, as it required for the role. She should be very proud of her performance.

Thank you to Debbie Hartley Forchielli for alerting me to the performance dates and for sharing her excellent photos of the show.

One performance of The Sound of Music remains on Sunday April 27 at 2:00 pm. Tickets are $12 and may be purchased at the box office located next to the entrance to the auditorium. The Sunday, matinee is a Senior Citizen matinee and is free to all seniors. Please call in advance to reserve these senior seats. For further information, please call Holy Cross in Waterbury at 203.757.9248. Holy Cross High School is located at 587 Oronoke Rd, Waterbury, CT 06708.


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Stage Crafter April 28, 2014 at 10:17 AM
Back in 1973, students (and actors at most other theatres) didn't have the "advantage" of microphones to amplify their voices. They were taught to project their voices in order to be heard in such a large venue. When I auditioned at that time, the directors sat at the rear of the auditorium, and if an actor didn't project their voice loud enough they weren't cast in the show. It was that simple. Whenever I'm in a show today, I really don't worry about the microphone that I'm wearing since I always project to the last row. The patrons there paid the same amount as someone sitting in the front row and deserve to hear what's going on. As a result, I never have to worry about being held hostage to a malfunctioning mic. I've noticed that today, students are not adequately trained in the art of projecting their voice and they do not know what to do when their mic goes out.
Nancy Sasso Janis April 28, 2014 at 05:01 PM
Stage Crafter, Thank you for your insider information. The problem with this particular production was that the microphones were dropping every other word and lyric. Most of these teens did a pretty good job of projecting, so sitting in the middle of the smallish auditorium I was able to hear them. However, there was also lots of loud feedback and other sounds.

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