A ‘love story’: Students enjoy roles in historical musical

The Austrian Alps came alive with the sound of music as Maria Rainer walked through the mountain plains, and the soft voices of the Von Trapp children could be heard once again in the Trapp Villa.

A cast of students from Wapakoneta City Schools filled the Wapakoneta Performing Arts Center this weekend to perform the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical “The Sound of Music” under the direction of Todd Christopher.

For Wapakoneta High School senior Kelsey Barrett playing Maria was the last time she performed on stage in a major school production.

“It has been fun,” Barrett said. “This is a different role for me, but I am enjoying, taking it on and interpreting it in a different way.

“Somebody had asked me before if I felt a lot of more pressure since a lot of people have seen ‘The Sound of Music’ before, but I think it is cool for them to see our interpretation of the characters,” she said. “I have to be sort of a motherly figure which is totally different than I have ever done before. I am enjoying it immensely.”

The daughter of Lisa and Jon Barrett is one of seven seniors to perform in this stage production. She shares the stage lights with Aubrey Hawk, Mindy Kiefer, Paige Klopfenstein, Kimberly Kohler, Janki Patel and Courtney Van Horn.

Barrett said she has always received support from the cast, who are used to seeing her play different roles including Chava in “Fiddler on the Roof” and Christine and Meg in “The Phantom of the Opera,” but she also appreciates the support of her friends at school who attend performances and watch her play the different roles.

For WHS junior Brandon Kohler, playing Max Detweiler is his first major role in a school play or musical, although he was a member of the chorus for “The Phantom of the Opera” and participated in the musical theater anti-bullying productions.

“Even though this is my big first role, I haven’t been as nervous as I thought I was going to be because I already had some stage experience,” Kohler said. “It is a lot of fun and a lot of people have not heard me sing or seen me act — I think everybody has been excited to see me sing and act and it is nice to know they appreciate all the work the entire crew puts into this.”

Kohler, who first appears on the terrace of the Trapp Villa with Capt. Georg Von Trapp, played by Cedric Gegel, and Elsa Schraeder, played by Salon Gegel and Taylor Wohlgamuth, said the lighting is perfect for him to be able to scan the crowd to see whom he is acting for that show.

“I think the adrenaline you get from acting in front of people improves your acting,” the son of Darcy and Duane Kohler said. “I am in musical theater class and acting in front of my class of 16 is way different than acting in front of everyone else. There is just an added element of appreciation.”

Having never seen the movie starring Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer, Kohler had no idea of how Richard Haydn played Max in the 1965 musical.

“I had no idea what to expect when I was cast into this role, so I pretty much made the character me — I play him as me and I bring a lot of myself into the character,” Kohler said. “I think it is good because I don’t think it is acting anymore — it is just changing my name.”

WHS junior Kayla Behr, the daughter of Charity and Brian Behr, gained a greater appreciation for the movie musical and the theater production.

“The stage production we do is very similar in many ways, but it also is different because it is children and high schoolers doing it and it is our own view of a love story,” Behr said.

She learned staging a full musical is much more difficult than she first thought, “but when you have a good crew behind you and a good director like TC (Todd Christopher) it can be great.”

She also learned the Germans were cruel to the Austrians and people need to fight for their own country.

Behr, who played Sister Berthe, acknowledged see struggled to link with her character who felt Maria did not belong in the abbey.

“I had trouble connecting with my character at first because I don’t see myself as a mean person and I don’t find myself hating people,” Behr said. “I had to dig down deep to try to hate Maria, or Kelsey — I don’t hate Kelsey, I love Kelsey — so that was a little different aspect to get used to, but I like my character.”

One of the younger characters in the play, Olivia Kentner, who plays Brigitta, had to learn to associate with the high schoolers. She said they were more independent and they all know what they are doing and what is expected of them.

“You are afraid to ask questions, you have no clue what is going on, but they were really nice and cool and I really liked hanging out with them,” Olivia said. “Personally I want to do this for the rest of my life — I really love singing and acting.”

The daughter of Amy and Matt Kentner learned of the opportunity through an announcement at her school. She learned of her being chosen for the role after she panicked when she was called into Assistant Principal Wes Newland’s office.

When she saw Christopher in the room, she knew she was chosen to be part of “The Sound of Music” cast.

“I learned everyone was really nice and they have the same interests as me — the only thing is no one is in my grade,” the WMS sixth-grader said. “I found out they are really good people, they are great to hang out with at times and they did a really good job on this musical.”

To see the video of this weekend's performance, visit http://www.facebook.com/WapakonetaDaily