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November 8, 2012

'Sound of Music' will be a family affair for cast

By Mark Boshnack
The Daily Star

---- — Twenty-nine years after it was first performed on the stage by Orpheus Theatre, “The Sound of Music” is returning with several involved in that original show.

Performances will be at 8 p.m. Dec. 8 and 2 p.m. Dec. 9 at the Goodrich Theatre at State University College at Oneonta’s Fine Arts Building. The first performance by Orpheus was held at Oneonta High School auditorium from Nov. 9 to 12, 1984. It was also staged in the 1992-93 season. With a score by Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein, “The Sound of Music” is “warm, wonderful and timeless,” according to the Orpheus website. Also made into a 1965 movie starring Julie Andrews, it is a story about a romance that develops between an Austrian naval captain and a governess of his seven children, intercut with subplots about how they fled Nazi Germany and became the Von Trapp Family Singers.

Orpheus Director of Special Programs Janet Lampo said it remains a popular show.

“Everybody knows the story and the music that was made popular by the movie starring Julie Andrews,” she said. “A lot of families come to see it.”

With the long history of Orpheus, it’s becoming common to see children who started in productions that come back to perform as adults. There are a couple of examples of this in the upcoming production.

This includes Rachel Hansen, cast as Sister Margaretta. She played the child Martha in the original performance.

Hansen’s daughter Sarah, 11, will play Brigitta, also a child, a role an aunt played in that original production. Hansen said that after performing in Orpheus starting at 13, “I took a 26-year break,” before coming back for last season’s “Hairspray” and now this performance.

“I found I missed being in the theater and wanted to get back into it,” she said.

With her daughter involved, “It was so much fun,” she said. “We got to spend more time together.”

When Hansen was younger, she said she didn’t realize all that goes into a successful production. “It’s a lot of hard work,” she said, “but it all comes together. It’s a team effort.”

Sarah said, “It’s kind of cool to be in it.” She said she likes playing the same role as her aunt. She is looking forward to performing, but with the constant practicing required, she will be glad when it’s done.

Retired Oneonta High School English teacher John Chamard has remained active as a director in Orpheus over the years. He was a longtime director for the high school drama club. He directed the first “Sound of

Music” for Orpheus and is glad to be doing the current production. There is a sense of history in it, he said of the upcoming production.

He is delighted that Hansen is back with her daughter. His daughter, who was also in that original production, now lives in New Jersey.

The current cast is “a very talented group that is working hard. I am pleased with the progress,” he said.

Cailtin Cook-Wightman is playing the lead role of Maria. At 31, she has been involved with Orpheus since playing a Munchkin in the “Wizard of Oz” in third grade.

She had the lead role in “Annie” in fifth grade and played Brigitta in the 1992 production of “Sound of Music.” She came back to the area in 2005 after graduating college and is an art teacher at Cooperstown.

She said she has enjoyed working with Chamard, who she had as an English teacher. As an adult: “I have more of an appreciation for the time and effort that goes into a successful production,” she said.

Her participation was made possible by a supportive husband who takes care of their two children while she practices, Cook-Wightman said. While it is too soon to say whether any of them will follow her into Orpheus productions, “I would love for them to do whatever they want to do,” she said.