Preparing for ‘The Sound of Music’

With scenes larger than ever before and a cast the most numerous its been for many years, Wapakoneta High School students are putting the final touches on their production of “The Sound of Music” this week.

Including crew, costuming and lighting, more than 60 students are involved with the musical to be presented Thursday through Sunday at the Wapakoneta Performing Arts Center.

Wapakoneta High School junior Brandon Kohler said he enjoys taking part in musicals to have the chance to live vicariously through other people’s experiences. Historically, “The Sound of Music,” lines up with experiences during World War II and the Nazi era.

With rehearsals Monday through Thursday after school through this week — when rehearsals with microphones, costumes and the orchestra have started going late into the night, cast members also have prepared a lot outside of school practices to memorize and run through their lines.

“I’ve evolved inside my part,” said junior Amanda Gasior, who is portraying Frau Schmidt, the Von Trapp’s housekeeper.

While he didn’t know much about the story and had never seen the movie growing up, Kohler, who fills the role of Max Detweiler, said he has really enjoyed it.

“It’s a good family show for all ages,” said sophomore Austin Drake, who plays mail boy Rolf Gruber.

Gasior said at some point in each scene there is a smile and a laugh.

“We grow every night we do this,” Gasior said.

All three said they would like to pursue some sort of musical education or theater in college and chalk their parts up as being additional learning experiences.

In addition to acting — 17 songs are featured in the musical — cast members also dance a lot during their production and wear elaborate costumes.

Musical Director Todd Christopher said the cast is the largest they have had since 2004.

“Community supporters have been asking for the program to do a Rogers and Hammerstein for a couple of years,” Christopher said of how “The Sound of Music” was selected.

“Last year, with the opening of the auditorium, I wanted to do something big, and I knew with the talent, we could pull off ‘Phantom of the Opera,’” he said. “This year, I wanted to showcase another large cast with a musical that everyone knows. ‘The Sound of Music’ was as good a choice as any.”

Christopher said the public should expect the Broadway show to be a little different from the movie, with the nun playing a bigger role in the beginning and Captain Von Trapp, Elsa and Max singing trios, which aren’t in the movie version of the storyline.

The musical also features some of the district’s youngest talents.

“You can’t have ‘The Sound of Music’ without the Von Trapp Family Singers,” Christopher said of the youngest four Von Trapp children being played by three Wapakoneta Middle School students and a Wapakoneta Elementary School student, who have been rehearsing with high school students for six weeks in preparation of the performances.

For the first time in eight years, the production features a live orchestra and the biggest set the high school has ever built, with the house alone being 48-feet wide by 16-feet tall.

Set designs have been done by Art Club members under the direction of Suzanne Temple, Art Club adviser and visual arts instructor at the high school.

Temple said preparing for the production, which features six major scene changes, has taken a lot of work.

Art Club members helping paint the sets included Brock Sharp, Nicole King, Sarah King, Ronni Kachelries, Samantha Haney and Adrianna Levin. Students Zac Mus-selman and Austin Drake helped adults, Brian Musselman, John Drake, Casey Topping and Steve Severt built the sets.

“Usually, they tell us their plans in November and we get an idea for the sets,” Temple said. “We start looking online for other ideas, draw them out and then go over them with Todd Christopher.

“Dads usually work to build the sets and tweaks are made as needed,” she said. “Once sets are built, Art Club members get together to prime and paint them.”

Temple described the sets for this year’s musical as “huge.”

“We’ve never had that big of a backdrop, but the scenes called for a big house and big scenery,” Temple said. “It’s a lot of work, but so much fun.”

Samantha Haney agreed that it is a lot of work, but that it is definitely going to pay off with the sets they designed and is also a way for her to express her love of painting.

She said one tip they have to remember is to paint from the audience’s perspective, which means a lot of detailing, shading and shadows to make specific aspects of the scenery pop.

“They spend a lot of time and effort working to make a good musical and we do this to help it all come together,” fellow Art Club member Nicole King said.    “I can’t wait to see it. I love ‘The Sound of Music.’ I love the sets. I can’t wait to see it come to life.”