Houston Children Spotlight HGO’s The Sound of Music

The cast of the Glimmerglass Festival’s production of The Sound of Music in 2022. Glimmerglass is a co-producer of Houston Grand Opera’s production of the show, running Aril 26 to May 12.

Do, Re, Mi
Houston Children Spotlight HGO’s The Sound of Music

Rodgers and Hammerstein’s The Sound of Music is arguably among the most-beloved musicals ever composed. The original Broadway production premiered in 1959 and ran for 1,443 performances and took home four Tony Awards. The movie version lit up the big screen in 1965, starring Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer, and won five Oscars. Across the musical’s 65-year life, it’s had a Broadway revival and a live showing on NBC in 2013.

Now, the show, about a nun named Maria who is sent from her convent to be a nanny to the seven children of Captain Georg von Trapp, and who winds up falling in love with him, their courtship set in the final days before the Nazis invaded Austria, is marking another milestone. Houston Grand Opera is mounting its first-ever production of the musical, running at the Wortham Theater Center from April 26 through May 12.

A co-production between HGO and The Glimmerglass Festival, The Sound of Music stars mezzo-soprano Isabel Loenard as Maria and baritone Alexander Birch Elliott as Captain von Trapp. It also features a sextet of Houston kids, playing six of the von Trapp children: Peter Theurer as Frederich, Anne Voorhees as Louisa, Antonio Rico as Kurt, Macie Joy Speer as Brigitta, Abigail Lee as Marta and Lora Uvarova as Gretl.  Each of them also has a cover, in case they can’t go on for some reason. Daniel Karash covers Friedrich, Annie Blitz covers Louisa, Dante Petrozzi covers Kurt, Mollie Diaz covers Brigitta, Edison Desch Salek covers Marta and Asha Weinzapfel covers Gretl.

Eldest daughter Liesl is played by soprano and Minneapolis native Tori Tedeschi Adams.

The Sound of Music is such an incredible production that is loved by generations of people and it unites people,” says 11-year-old Lee, who lives in the Highland Village area. “I am just so happy to be part of that.”

Lee will be making her HGO debut with the role, but she is no stranger to performing. She’s been on stage in Seussical Jr.  and Annie at Wildfish Theatre and at Rice University Opera’s production of Street Scene. Being a veteran performer is something she has in common with her kiddie co-stars, who all have multiple performing credits.

Eight-year-old Urarova performed at the International Children’s Theater Festival in Valencia, Spain. Speer, who is 11, has played Brigitta in A.D. Players’ production of The Sound of Music. And 14-year-old Rico has been on the HGO stage before, as Young Laurentino in El Milagro Del Recuerdo and Robin in Falstaff.

“Being a part of this production I have learned to treat the other children as if they were my family,” he says. “I’ve also gained a deeper understanding of the historical context of the show, particularly the period leading up to World War II and the impact on Austria, especially how it affected families.”

Urarova agees.

“Some people in Austria did not want to join the Nazis, including Captain von Trapp,” she says. “So his family had to escape the country as quickly as possible.”

“Don’t tell the leads, but one of my favorite parts of the job is working with young performers,” says Francesca Zambello, who directed the production at Glimmerglass and leads it at HGO. “They come in with such enthusiasm and curiosity. I always say kids are the toughest audience, because if they’re bored, they’re not going to be polite about it. The same is true of kids in the rehearsal room. They are always pushing me to be on the top of my game.”

Through rehearsing, the kids have learned about the show, its history and their own responsibilities as performers. Working with a professional company, there are expectations about being on time and being prepared. The experience has been valuable.

“I’ve learned how to expand my vocal range,” says Speer. “It’s been fun to stretch myself in a new way.”

Audiences will see for themselves how their hard work is paying off when they come to the show.

Houston Family Magazine readers can use code HFM20 to save 20% on all orchestra level tickets for the Saturday, May 11 matinee performance at 1:00 p.m.

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