by Corey Ralston
Visalia is alive with the Sound of Music for one weekend only. The quintessential Rogers and Hammerstein musical is coming to life again through the League of Christian Actors starting Thursday June 21.
One of the world’s most beloved and certainly most famous musicals is having a resurgence in popularity as the film is nearing its 50th anniversary and both Good Company Players and the League of Christian Actors are bringing the show new life.
“The Sound of Music is perhaps the most iconic musical off all time. It is a show about hope and the triumph of love and courage over oppression and evil. The Sound of Music has a large cast, an arsenal of arguably some of the best known and loved Broadway tunes, and has become a part of the American collective culture,” Director Lim Forgey said about the show.
If you have not heard of the League of Christian Actors, then you have been missing out on quality summer musicals in Tulare County for the past eight years. The group’s inaugural show was also the Sound of Music and it is one that has had great success. They have also put on such spectacular shows as Into the Woods, Oklahoma, The Music Man, Peter Pan, Fiddler on the Roof and Jesus Christ Superstar.
Usually the profit of each Summer smash hit goes right back into preparing for the next show but this year a portion of the proceeds are going to benefit a new organization that helps children discover art.
“CLIPArts is an afterschool arts program that I started with Christ Lutheran Church providing no cost instruction in the performing and fine arts to low income or at risk kids in an afterschool program. It is aimed at changing lives and encouraging and empowering young people through the power of the arts. It is a place that does not discriminate based on race, income, culture, sexual orientation, or any other factor used to separate or marginalize kids in our community,” Forgey said.
Forgey has established himself as not only a respected director but a highly accomplished performer as well. He is an active and professional opera singer who has performed with the Golden Gate Opera in San Francisco and California Opera in Fresno. Not to mention a long list of starring roles in musicals.
The Sound of Music is loosely based on the true story of the Von Trapp family singers just before World War II. The star is Maria, who recently left the Abbey after not being able to conform to the Nun lifestyle. She is sent to the Von Trapp Family as a governess and teaches the children, who were raised strictly by their Father the Captain, to live freely and enjoy life. During the process, a romance blossoms between Maria and the Captain and ensures that their lives will be forever changed.
Both the roles of the Captain and Maria are reprised from their 2004 production. Leslie White returns as the Captain and Elizabeth LaMar takes a second swing as the fun loving Maria.
Elizabeth has years of musical theater experience under her belt as a director, stage manager and performer. Some of her local credits include Blithe Spirit, The Taffetas, MacBeth (The Opera), Annie and Into The Woods.
LaMar is having the time of her life trying the role of Maria again. “It’s like a fabulous ‘do-over’,” LaMar said. “I have the opportunity to look back and make some tweaks to the character and do things differently.”
LaMar said she has a lot in common with the character. “Maria and I are spunky and passionate. We wear our hearts on our sleeves and tend to speak out when maybe we should bite our tongues and walk away.”
The biggest challenge for her is being compared to the iconic Julie Andrews. She has made a point to not watch the movie so she can bring her own creativity to the role. But Ms. Andrews is not forgotten, as a medley of her songs will be performed by children prior to curtain.
The production will be held at the College of Sequoias Theatre and runs June 21 to the 24. A special Sing-A-Long performance will close the show on Sunday the 24th. Tickets range from $15 to $20 and can be obtained by calling 559-732-1851. But hurry seats are filling up very quickly.