"The Sound of Music" - by Rodgers and Hammerstein - North Shore Music Theatre (Beverly, MA.) - REVIEW

(Cover Photo: Desi Oakley as "Maria Rainer" and Joseph Spieldenner as "Captain Georg von Trapp" in the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical, "THE SOUND OF MUSIC" now playing at Bill Hanney's North Shore Music Theatre in Beverly, MA. through July 23, 2023. Photo © David Costa Photography)

By Kevin T. Baldwin

METRMAG Reviewer

# 774-242-6724

“Maria, these walls were not meant to shut out problems. You have to face them. You have to live the life you were born to live.”

                                                                 - ("Mother Abbess") / Rodgers and Hammerstein     

North Shore Music Theatre

Presents Rodgers and Hammerstein


Music by Richard Rodgers

Lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II

Book by Howard Lindsay and Russel Crouse

Directed by Kevin P. Hill

Music Direction by Milton Granger

Choreography by Briana Fallon

Cast Includes: Sister Margaretta, Mistress of Postulants - Marlene Montes*; Sister Berthe, Mistress of Novices - April Armstrong*; The Mother Abbess - Janinah Burnett*; Sister Sophia - Lisa Yuen*; Maria Rainer - Desi Oakley*; Captain Georg von Trapp - Joseph Spieldenner*; Franz - Kevin B. McGlynn*; Frau Schmidt - Mary Callanan*; Liesl von Trapp - Tori Heinlein*; Rolf Gruber - Travis Anderson*; Ursula - Ellen Peterson;; Elsa Schraeder - Kerry Conte*; Max Detweiler - John Scherer*; The Trio Of The Saengerbund of Herwegan - Meagan Lewis-Michelson, Derek Luscutoff, Nicole Weitzman; Herr Zeller - Russell Garrett*; Baron Elberfeld - Billy Goldstein; Frau Zeller - Ellen Peterson; Baroness Elberfeld - Meagan Lewis-Michelson; A New Postulant - Jalynn Stewart; Admiral von Schreiber - Harrison Drake; A Nazi Lieutenant - Drake Leach; Ensemble - April Armstrong*, Tommy Betz, Harrison Drake, Russell Garrett*, Billy Goldstein, Drake Leach, Esther Lee, Meagan Lewis-Michelson, Derek Luscutoff, Marlene Montes*, Ellen Peterson, Elena Ramos Pascullo*; Understudy For: Max Detweiler - Russell Garrett*; Mother Abbess - Marlene Montes*; Maria - Elena Ramos Pascullo*; Elsa - Lisa Yuen*    Study Cover For: Rolf Gruber - Tommy Betz; Captain Georg von Trapp - Harrison Drake; Franz - Billy Goldstein ; Herr Zeller - Drake Leach; Lisle von Trapp - Esther Lee; Sister Berthe - Meagan Lewis-Michelson; Frau Schmidt and Sister Sophia - Ellen Peterson; Sister Margaretta - Nicole Weitzman. (Note: Understudies, Study Covers, And Swings Are Never Substituted For Listed Performers Unless A Specific Announcement Is Made At The Time Of The Performance).

The von Trapp Children - 

Friedrich von Trapp: Alex Kennedy (July 11, 12 (7:30pm), 14, 15 (8pm), 19 (2pm), 20, 22 (2pm), 23) & Wade Gleeson Turner (July 12 (2pm), 13, 15 (2pm), 16, 18, 19 7:30pm), 21, 22 (8pm)   

Louisa von Trapp: Emilia Tagliani ((July 11, 12 (7:30pm), 14, 15 (8pm), 19 (2pm), 20, 22 (2pm), 23) & Isabella Carroll (July 12 (2pm), 13, 15 (2pm), 16, 18, 19 7:30pm), 21, 22 (8pm)  

Kurt von Trapp: Patrick Naughton (July 11, 12 (7:30pm), 14, 15 (8pm), 19 (2pm), 20, 22 (2pm), 23) & Jack Baumrind (July 12 (2pm), 13, 15 (2pm), 16, 18, 19 7:30pm), 21, 22 (8pm)   

Brigitta von Trapp: Lola Rhoads (July 11, 12 (7:30pm), 14, 15 (8pm), 19 (2pm), 20, 22 (2pm), 23) & Penelope Rhoads (July 12 (2pm), 13, 15 (2pm), 16, 18, 19 7:30pm), 21, 22 (8pm)   

Marta von Trapp: Helen M. Brady (July 11, 12 (7:30pm), 14, 15 (8pm), 19 (2pm), 20, 22 (2pm), 23) & Dalya Eracar (July 12 (2pm), 13, 15 (2pm), 16, 18, 19 7:30pm), 21, 22 (8pm)   

Gretl von Trapp: Ainsley Moulton (July 11, 12 (7:30pm), 14, 15 (8pm), 19 (2pm), 20, 22 (2pm), 23) & Regan Shanahan (July 12 (2pm), 13, 15 (2pm), 16, 18, 19 7:30pm), 21, 22 (8pm)  

 Additional Creative Team:

Kyle Dixon - Scenic Design; Kelly Baker - Costume Design; Jose Santiago - Lighting Design; Alex Berg - Sound Design; Rachel Padula-Shufelt - Wig & Hair Design; Robert L. Rucinski - Assistant Music Director/Rehearsal Pianist; Bill Hanney - Owner/Producer; Kevin P. Hill - Producing Artistic Director; Matthew Chappell - Associate Producer/Casting Director.

* Member of Actors’ Equity Association, the Union of Professional Actors and Stage Managers in the United States 

** Represented by United Scenic Artists, Local USA 829 of the IATSE


July 11, 2023 to July 23, 2023

(Contact Box Office for Exact Times) 

Tickets: $68 - $93 For tickets and information visit www.nsmt.org, call (978) 232-7200, or visit the North Shore Music Theatre box office in person at 54 Dunham Rd., Beverly, MA.


Contact Venue for Most Updated COVID-19 Safety Protocols and Information.

"THE SOUND OF MUSIC" is presented by arrangement with Concord Theatricals on behalf of The Rodgers & Hammerstein Organization. www.concordtheatricals.com

(Note: The following review is of a performance held on July 15th, 2023 featuring the cast of "von Trapp" children designated for that performance) 

North Shore Music Theatre (NSMT) presents, quite possibly, the most inventive, creative staging of Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein’s "THE SOUND OF MUSIC" seen in quite some time and it is a total delight.

It has to be a challenge to try and breathe new life into a re-staging of such an iconic musical as  “SOUND OF MUSIC” especially as it IS now, at 64-years-old, a bit "long in the tooth."  

Fortunately, the cast and creative team for the production at NSMT meets this challenge head on and delivers a refreshing, ambitious show making it as relevant today as it was over 60 years ago. 

The story, written by Howard Lindsay and Russel Crouse, is based on the memoir of Maria von Trapp, which tells the story of the Trapp Family Singers and how they came to America in 1939 to escape the Nazi takeover of Austria

The show opened on Broadway in November 16, 1959, only 21 years after Austria’s assimilation into Nazi Germany and a mere 14 years after the war in Germany had ended. 

Yet, in this latest NSMT production, certain themes within the book, on which the musical is based, appear to be timeless, especially given the prevalent social climate existing in the United States

A solid cast in this latest NSMT production musically performed "in the round" excels at performing such classic Rodgers and Hammerstein numbers as "Edelweiss," "My Favorite Things," "Climb Ev'ry Mountain," "Do-Re-Mi" and the title number, "The Sound of Music.”

(Photo: Janinah Burnett as "Mother Abbess" and Desi Oakley as "Maria" in the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical, "THE SOUND OF MUSIC" now playing at Bill Hanney's North Shore Music Theatre in Beverly, MA. through July 23, 2023. Photo © David Costa Photography)

Feeling as if she is being punished, Maria (Desi Oakley) follows the directive by the Mother Abbess (Janinah Burnett) and heads to serve as governess at the villa of widower, Captain Georg von Trapp (Joseph Spieldenner), a decorated World War I Captain of the Austro-Hungarian Navy

Oakley's performance as Maria is wonderfully refreshing - a more down to earth approach in the portrayal of Maria which, in the hands of others, may have the character coming across as a bit "stodgy" or stiff. 

You can actually see Oakley's thought processes, speaking with a clearly defined approach and intent rather than just watching an actress regurgitating lines from the script.

Instead, with a slight "Sutton Foster"-esque quality, in Oakley's hands, Maria becomes "newer" - a far more playful, a bit wilder, perhaps - more impetuous, and definitely a force of nature to be reckoned with when she so chooses. 

Oakley's vocal prowess, in the role made famous by Mary Martin and Julie Andrews, is absolutely resplendent, well in keeping with the legacy established by other fine actresses who have been blessed to play this role.

As Mother Abbess, Janinah Burnett not only garners well-earned thunderous applause from the audience for her powerful rendition of “Climb Ev’ry Mountain” - she ALSO shows a much softer, playful side to her character, as witnessed in the early duet with Oakley as Maria on "My Favorite Things."

Maria's initial welcome by all in the von Trapp estate is not pleasant as she is treated poorly upon her first encounters. Yet, she does not allow this to deter from what she feels is God's mission for her.

Joseph Spieldenner gives a superior performance as the conservative yet passionate Captain. His vocal rendition of the musical's iconic "Edelweiss” in the show's second act was definitely a highlight. 

All the supporting cast provide strong performances, but most engaging from the moment they enter are the seven von Trapp children. 

The Captain’s 16-year old daughter Liesl (Tori Heinlein) is experiencing the emotional pangs of her first true love in messenger Rolf (Travis Anderson). Both actors give stellar performances, especially during the cleverly staged duet, the ode to naiveté, “Sixteen Going on Seventeen.  

There is a lot of similarly shrewd blocking used throughout the show. Some might complain the show feels "reduced" because gone are the massive, opulent grandiose sets for this theatre in the round staging.

This would be an error as, thanks to the combined efforts of Director Kevin P. Hill, Music Director Milton Granger and Choreographer Briana Fallon, there is absolutely NOTHING "reduced" in this formidable production. 

The orchestra, under Music Director Milton Granger, never faltered and Granger kept all the performers on track with the music - a difficult task, for sure, with any show set "in the round" with actors pivoting at multiple points and at any given moment on the arena stage.

"THE SOUND OF MUSIC" is a clever, magnificent, insightful use of the entire NSMT arena which allows better focus on the performers and the story, with an equally ingenious use of intelligent lighting and a scenic design with scenery suspended, raised and lowered as required.  

The remaining von Trapp children are (as portrayed during the 07-15 performance): Friedrich (Alex Kennedy), Louisa (Emilia Tagliani), Kurt (Patrick Naughton), Brigitta (Lola Rhoads), Marta (Helen M. Brady) and Gretl (Ainsley Moulton). 

All have wonderful chemistry together in their scenes - enhancing their respective relationships with both Oakley and Spieldenner and other performers on stage.

Although her initial welcome by all in the house is quite underwhelming, Maria begins to win over the hearts of the Captain’s children, and then, gradually...the Captain himself. 

(Photo: Desi Oakley as "Maria" and the CAST of the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical, "THE SOUND OF MUSIC" now playing at Bill Hanney's North Shore Music Theatre in Beverly, MA. through July 23, 2023. Photo © David Costa Photography)

Von Trapp, engaged to be married, becomes increasingly aware and defiant of the coming Nazi occupation of Austria, or “Anschluss.

When the Captain finds himself falling for remarkable young Maria, it does not go unnoticed - not by his children, by his close companion Max Detweiller (John Scherer), nor his jealous fiancé Elsa Schrader (Kerry Conte). 

Max, as embodied by Scherer, sees himself as neither a hero nor a villain. He tries to be as neutral or as close to "Switzerland" as a man could get. Yet, at some point, Max does make a decision as to where his true allegiances reside. 

Conversely, Elsa knows exactly who she is and her social position and, as portrayed by Conte, also shows that she will do anything to protect and maintain that standing.

Scherer and Conte both give solid performances, yet are relegated to "make interesting" probably two of most weakest songs in the show: “How Can Love Survive” and “No Way to Stop It” (the latter sung with Spieldenner). 

The songs, intended to foreshadow the forthcoming “Anschluss, are totally needless to move the plot along, yet they do allow the two fine actors a little more to do in the production. 

The numbers actually seem only there to serve to provide additional time for any set prep or costume changes required for the subsequent scenes. (By the way, this is a relatively minor structural complaint of the R&H score which does not detract from the overall production.)

That said, the latter song, “No Way to Stop It,” does work on stage if only to drive home a pivotal moment of decision for the Captain which was not required in the film version of the musical. It is also a Rodgers and Hammerstein song that, of the two songs mentioned, actually has the familiar ‘feel’ of a Rodgers and Hammerstein song. 

(Photo: Desi Oakley as "Maria Rainer" and Joseph Spieldenner as "Captain Georg von Trapp" in the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical, "THE SOUND OF MUSIC" now playing at Bill Hanney's North Shore Music Theatre in Beverly, MA. through July 23, 2023. Photo © David Costa Photography)

As the Captain and Maria declare their feelings for one another, they do so in the face of increasing danger as he gets recalled to military service. 

They decide they must find a way they can flee their fallen Austria with the children. 

Choreographed highlights by Briana Fallon include the numbers, "Do-Re-Mi" which allows the more playful aspect of the relationship between Maria and the children to illuminate the stage; and "So Long, Farewellwhich harkens back to the iconic choreography from the film while giving it a more "in the round" appeal.

(Safety note: There is a great deal of activity and use of the aisles. It is recommended, for everyone's safety, that the audience please keep those legs/knees inside the aisles.)

"THE SOUND OF MUSIC" continues at the North Shore Music Theatre in Beverly until July 23rd and, even if you have seen the show once, twice, or even a dozen times, this latest production by NSMT is well worth seeing again and again and again.

Coming up next at Bill Hanney's North Shore Music Theatre: "ESCAPE TO MARGARITAVILLE" beginning August 15, 2023. https://www.metrmag.com/upcoming-shows/escape-to-margaritaville-the-jimmy-buffett-musical-north-shore-music-theatre-beverly-ma

Approximately two hours, 55 minutes with one intermission.

Kevin T. Baldwin is a member of the American Theatre Critics Association (ATCA) 




Revisit the world’s most beloved musical. 

"THE SOUND OF MUSIC" tells the tale of a young nun who is dispatched to serve as governess for the seven children of a widowed naval Captain. Her growing relationship with the children, coupled with her generosity of spirit, gradually captures the heart of the stern Captain. 

The final collaboration between Rodgers & Hammerstein was a Tony©, Grammy©, and Oscar©-winning score, featuring favorites, including “Do-Re-Mi,” “My Favorite Things,” “Edelweiss,” and the iconic title track “The Sound Of Music. 

The hills of North Shore Music Theatre come alive once more! 


Recommended for all audiences. We do encourage you to use your judgment based on your own research of the show, your own sensibilities, and a child's age and maturity level. No children under the age of 4 will be permitted in the theatre including babes in arms.

RUNNING TIME: Approx. 2 hrs 55 min (includes intermission) 


Since opening in 1955, NORTH SHORE MUSIC THEATRE (NSMT) has become one of the most attended theatres in New England, with approximately 250,000 patrons annually. With a national and regional reputation for artistic achievement, NSMT has received numerous industry awards including Elliot Norton Awards, IRNE Awards, the Rosetta Le Noire Award from Actors' Equity, and the Moss Hart Award. NSMT produced the World Premiere of "Memphis" in 2003, the show went on to win four 2010 Tony Awards including Best Musical. Under the new ownership of Bill Hanney since 2010, NSMT continues to annually produce a musical subscription series and an annual production of "A Christmas Carol" along with celebrity concerts, children's programming and year-round education classes for children and adults. 


54 Dunham Road 

Beverly, MA 01915 

PHONE # 978-232-7200  

FAX # 978-232-9999