Berkeley Playhouse opens its fifth season with Rodgers and Hammerstein's beloved final collaboration, THE SOUND OF MUSIC. Berkeley Playhouse founding Artistic Director Elizabeth McKoy helms this endearing family classic, featuring a cast of 40, with musical direction by Greg Mason and choreography by Staci Arriaga. THE SOUND OF MUSIC plays October 27 through December 2 (Press opening: October 27) at the Julia Morgan Theatre in Berkeley. For tickets ($17-35) and more information, the public may visit berkeleyplayhouse.org or call 510-845-8542 x 351.
When struggling novice nun Maria proves too high-spirited for the religious life, she is dispatched to serve as governess to the seven troublesome children of widowed naval Captain Von Trapp. Her growing rapport with the youngsters, coupled with her generosity of spirit, gradually captures their hearts, and the heart of the stern Captain. Based on the real-life Austrian family and their narrow escape from the Nazi's over the mountains to Switzerland on the eve of World War II, THE SOUND OF MUSIC provides one of the most thrilling finales ever presented on stage, and includes such memorable songs as "My Favorite Things," "Do Re Mi," "Climb Every Mountain," and the title song, all of which have become a much-loved part of the 20th century musical theater canon.
The original Broadway production of THE SOUND OF MUSIC, starring Mary Martin and Theodore Bikel, opened on November 16, 1959. The show tied for the Tony Award for Best Musical with Fiorello!, with Martin winning for Best Actress in a Musical. It was adapted as a 1965 film musical starring Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer, which won five Academy Awards. The production received a 1981 West End revival, and in 1998, director Susan H. Schulman staged the first Broadway revival; Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber remounted a West End revival in 2006. THE SOUND OF MUSIC was the final musical written by Rodgers and Hammerstein; Hammerstein died nine months after the original Broadway premiere.
"Ever since I was a young girl, I have been transfixed with the music and the beautiful, haunting melodies that drive THE SOUND OF MUSIC," said Artistic Director Elizabeth McKoy. "When I was younger, the story was only about a family who needed love and then found love. As I grew older, the context of World War II and the Nazi's gave me deeper insight and understanding as to how rich and important a show like THE SOUND OF MUSIC truly was."
Continued McKoy, "This is the perfect multigenerational show; it has so many levels that, regardless of age, the joyful music and heartfelt melodies will transport audiences. The characters and plot tell a complex, interwoven story where audience members are able to connect to so many different aspects of the production. THE SOUND OF MUSIC is Rodgers and Hammerstein's final musical; it is so perfectly constructed, it feels like an honor to direct this show. With the inclusion of so many of the beloved songs from the film version, it will be all that much more nostalgic and captivating."
Tim Kniffin and Sharon Rietkerk make their Berkeley Playhouse debuts as Captain Von Trapp and novice nun Maria in THE SOUND OF MUSIC. Kniffin's credits include productions at Aurora Theatre Company (Anatol, Trouble in Mind, The Best Man, Permanent Collection), Magic Theatre (An Accident), Center REPertory Company (Summer and Smoke), Marin Theatre Company (Found Objects), Pacific Alliance Stage Company (A Streetcar Named Desire), Cinnabar Theater (110 in the Shade), and Shakespeare Napa Valley (Twelfth Night), among others. Rietkerk's credits include productions at TheatreWorks (The Secret Garden), Center REPertory Company (Rumors, Xanadu, She Loves Me), 42nd Street Moon (Nymph Errant, Strike Up the Band), Willows Theatre Company (Evil Dead the Musical), Diablo Theatre Company (The Drowsy Chaperone, Curtains), and Lamplighters Music Theater (My Fair Lady, Iolanthe). Additional credits include productions with South Coast Symphony, Napa Valley Opera House, and Ukiah Symphony; Rietkerk is also a teaching artist with the San Francisco Opera's Opera a la Carte program.