MILWAUKIE — A tale of love, tragedy, vocational discernment and family ties played out in the gymnasium of St. John the Baptist School here this spring. It was “The Sound of Music,” this year’s choice for the school’s annual musical production.
It was the most ambitious yet, bringing together 50 sixth, seventh and eighth graders who acted, sang and played in the orchestra. There were seven major costume changes for the cast, including full nuns’ habits and Nazi uniforms.
Because the film adaptation of the play is so beloved, director Jennifer Fargo did not mess with tradition. The musical was cut down a bit, but not changed much.
Fargo, who is also a teacher at the school, says her eighth graders spend part of the year studying Nazi atrocities, key background for the drama. In religion, the students explore God’s path for us, another theme of “The Sound of Music.”
Actors came from a drama class and the orchestra is made up of the old school band and a new string section. Some students made scenery.
Ben Kinkely, music teacher, directed the orchestra and said the students did well with a challenging Broadway score, including sound effects like thunder.
Isabella Draper, an eighth grader who will attend St. Mary’s Academy, played the role of Maria. She wanted to show the character’s changes from confusion to confidence, being loving all along.
“I wanted her to be caring and bring out the best in everyone,” Isabella says. “The musical is about finding who you really are and following your dreams.”
Samuel Jensen, an eighth grader bound for La Salle Prep, played Captain von Trapp.
“I wanted him to be a grouchy little guy no one likes and later turn out to be a nice guy,” says Jensen, who used posture and tone of voice to signify the character’s development. “Once you connect with your character you can live through him, acting with the character as opposed to just as the character.”
Even Ted Havens, principal of St. John’s, had a cameo appearance as master of ceremonies for an in-play concert.