Enthusiastic audiences were enraptured by the skilful portrayal of their favourite characters.
They connected with the moments of joy, heartbreak and passion in The Sound of Music staged by Naparima Girls’ High School, a timeless classic of epic proportions. The performance of the 1959 musical ran from Thursday 26th to Sunday 29th January, 2017 at the Naparima Bowl in San Fernando. Directed by the esteemed Victor Edwards, it sought to “transmit the power of the Edelweiss flower, the national symbol of Austria, into a memento” reminding the citizens of Trinidad and Tobago of their ability to advocate for the best interest of the Republic. The message of “blooming nationalism” was especially fitting for this difficult period in our country’s history.
In the musical, Maria Rainer, a young postulant in an Austrian abbey, was sent to be the governess of naval officer Captain Georg von Trapp’s seven children by the Mother Abbess. Concerned about whether the life of a nun would be fitting for Maria, she gave her the opportunity to experience the outside world. Maria then taught the children to sing, re- introducing music and joy into the Trapp household. Ultimately, she and the Captain became so enamoured with each other that they wed; however, with the Nazis’ invasion of Austria, the family was forced flee in order to escape Hitler’s tyranny.
NGHS’ pleasantly paced, high quality production featured fine acting from a charismatic cast of characters. The students, ages 8 to 20, had been working assiduously since October 2016. Sydney and Marina Mohans’ portrayal of the female lead, Maria Rainer, was exceedingly entertaining. Their clear soprano voices coupled with their exuberance and spritely nature made the musical a joy to watch. Similarly, Rondell Mungal was a strong protagonist as Captain Georg von Trapp. One could compare him to a 1965 Christopher Plummer in the movie adaptation, with his sultry singing and characteristic upright stance. After the performance, audience members commented on the “undeniable chemistry” between characters, from the Captain and Elsa played by Tsian Ramrattan and Emma Rahman to Rolf and Liesl played by Daniel Baptiste and Carissa Benjamin. Additionally, the audience was positively enchanted by the delightful von Trapp children, a group of brave thespians who produced melodious renditions of crowd favourites such as “Do-Re-Mi” and “The Lonely Goatherd”.
Music and lighting were also notable. The orchestra’s apt musical accompaniment was coordinated by the Musical Director of the production, the renowned Mrs. Bernadette Roberts, and included the national instrument of Trinidad and Tobago. The unique timbre of a variety of steelpans was combined with the piano, keyboard, flute and drums, seamlessly integrating the dynamism of Caribbean culture. The instruments were played by talented, well-rehearsed musicians whose ardour for the craft was displayed in the fervour of their performance. Conjointly, Peter Craig’s lighting design executed by the diligent lighting crew effectively set the mood. The brilliant flashes of blue and white light during the thunderstorm, the soft glow of the spotlight shining on Rolf and Liesl as they danced the night away and the terrifyingly bright searchlight as the Nazi soldiers searched frantically for the Trapp family were some of the most memorable instances of lighting creating an atmosphere of mirth and fear.
Throughout the musical the stage was animated by a flurry of elegant leaps, turns and gestures choreographed by the distinguished Mrs. Beverly Hinds-George. The deft dancers in vibrant costumes captivated the audience, from their puppet number to the graceful soloist interpreting the Mother Abbess’ emotionally charged lyrics in “Climb Ev’ry Mountain”.
Costume designer Lyanna Nichelle Brown is to be lauded for her hard work. The finely crafted costumes and commercially sourced garb in all colours of the spectrum were a true asset to the performance. From the dancers’ flowy white costumes bespeckled with red and black paint to the von Trapp family’s red, white and black patriotic festival ensemble, the central theme of national pride was effectively communicated.
Another asset was Creative Spectacle’s set design spearheaded by its managing director Joshua Logan which brought the Austrian countryside to life. Each backdrop painstakingly painted by sedulous students, led by Mrs. Charmaine Sieusankar and Ms. A. Mykoo, featured Edelweiss flowers, echoing the musical’s theme of patriotism. Simple scenery of windows overlooking the majestic Austrian Alps, a grand flight of stairs and the innovative use of the Bowl’s black curtain as the wall of the Abbey helped the audience to transcend the boundaries of time back to 1930s Austria. Stage properties were also fitting for each scene from the lavish furniture in the von Trapp villa to the convent’s simple wooden desk and chair.
Patrons marvelled at the fact that the cast’s hair and makeup were so “on point” and were left “speechless” by the professionalism of the students, especially the stage crew’s “quick scene changes”. They departed with a red, white and black Edelweiss bookmark which students of NGHS helped to adorn, a nationalistic reminder of the production. Overall, the venture was an immense success evidenced by the seven sold out shows and the positive response of all in attendance.
Naparima Girls’ High School would like to express its sincerest gratitude to the production team and cast for their invaluable contributions. We are immensely grateful for the overwhelming support of the staff, students, parents and patrons who assisted in any way and attended performances. The staging of great musicals has undoubtedly become a part of the La Pique legacy and we look forward to your continued support of our next meritorious production.