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‘The Sound’ of an audience swept away

The hills are alive in Northport, with Paul Stancato’s lovely production of the Rodgers & Hammerstein classic “The Sound of Music,” at the John W. Engeman Theater.

The hills are alive in Northport, with Paul Stancato’s lovely production of the Rodgers & Hammerstein classic “The Sound of Music,” at the John W. Engeman Theater.

There is a nauseating sweetness associated with “The Sound of Music” that Stancato manages to find a way around. While we all remember the story — Maria, a would-be nun, becomes the governess of the seven children of Captain von Trapp and they fall in love — we tend to forget that it’s set against the backdrop of the Nazi rise to power. Stancato’s staging blends the sugar of songs like “My Favorite Things” with the harsh realities of Howard Lindsay and Russel Crouse’s script. Nothing falls into the show’s easy trap of becoming overly saccharine, not even the children. That’s a good thing.

But it’s still the same “Sound of Music,” you grew up on, sans Julie Andrews (or Mary Martin) and Christopher Plummer (or Theodore Bikel). In their places are Alison Walla and Rob Gallagher, Broadway stalwarts, like many in this production. Walla, whose voice is quite pretty, finds herself right at home with the children (there are alternating casts), and has a wonderful rapport with Gallagher, who melts from his strong authoritarian standpoint right before our eyes.

Roger E. DeWitt as the unscrupulous Max Detweiler and Felicia Finley as the Captain’s baroness fiancée deliver the songs the audience doesn’t know (they were cut from the film) very well. But the audience is familiar with most of the score, and this is a show where everyone seems to know the lyrics. A gentleman behind me sang every word, quietly at first, growing louder. By “The Lonely Goatherd,” I found myself mouthing along, too. It’s just one of those shows.

 
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