Students from The Donoho School are in the midst of rehearsals for the upcoming performance of “The Sound of Music,” the beloved Rogers and Hammerstein musical loosely based on the real-life von Trapp family.
According to their usual rotation, Donoho was scheduled to perform a play rather than a musical having presented “The Wizard of Oz” last year, but fine arts coordinator Ashley Burrage, recognizing the “phenomenal” talent of her seniors, decided to buck tradition.
“A lot of times you have less students try out for musicals because there just aren’t that many kids who can sing,” Burrage said during a break from a recent Saturday rehearsal. “But this year … it was incredible the amount of talent we had. I just wanted the chance to show it off.”
Such classics as “Edelweiss,” “My Favorite Things,” “Climb Ev’ry Mountain” and “Do-Re-Mi,” have become a favorite of audiences of all ages — mainly due to the enduring success of the movie adaptation starring Julie Andrews.
“I grew up with ‘The Sound of Music,’” said 18-year-old Kristen Athon, who plays Liesl, the eldest of the seven von Trapp children. “I bet I’ve seen it over 100 times. I know it so well, but to see it come to life right in front of me is very exciting.”
Playing Liesl gives Athon the chance to sing the seminal coming-of-age song, “16 Going on 17” — a real treat for the actress who played The Tin Man in last year’s show.
“I don’t know why, but I tend to get more masculine roles, so this one’s been really fun,” she said, laughing. “Being a teenage girl, this is a part I can really relate to, obviously. I get to act a little diva-ish, and I know just where that comes from. I’m looking at the script and all the time thinking, ‘Oh, I know just where she’s coming from.”
But “The Sound of Music” isn’t second nature for everyone. Austin Petry, who plays Uncle Max, the “ultimate, greedy capitalist,” was unfamiliar with the story.
“I’d heard bits and pieces of it,” he said. “But I’d never seen the whole thing and was kinda lost at the beginning. But I think that gives me a different perspective because I don’t know it so well.”
This year’s production, as with “The Wizard of Oz,” is about more than showing off the talents of Donoho students, many of whom plan to study performing arts in college. It’s about helping those who cannot help themselves. A portion of the show’s proceeds will go towards The Rainbow Connection, a program that supports students at the Ray of Hope School in Namuwongo in the slums of Kampala, Uganda. The cost of sponsoring one student is $300, which provides uniforms, meals and a year’s education through Ten Eighteen Inc.
Donoho’s performance last year brought in enough to sponsor two students, while raising enough outside donations to sponsor three more.
Being able to improve the lives of others with their talents makes such performances all the more inspiring, explained Alli Brascho, who plays Maria.
“That’s what motivates me,” she said. “With this play, we get to help people outside the audience. It feels good that our one-hour performance is reaching beyond just Anniston High School. We are changing lives.”
Contact Brett Buckner at email@example.com.
If you go...
What: The Donoho School presents “The Sound of Music”
When: Friday, May 3, and Saturday, May 4, at 7 p.m.
Where: Anniston Performing Arts Center at Anniston High School
Tickets: $5 general admission, 10 percent of proceeds go to benefit the Ray of Hope School in Uganda.To learn more about the program, visit Ten Eighteen Inc. online at www.10eighteen.org.