reviewed by Ken Klingenmeier

One could sense a feeling of deep relief and emotional satisfaction as opening night of Agape Performing Arts Company’s long awaited youth production of The Sound of Music came alive on stage at the Athenaeum in downtown Indianapolis last evening. The show had it’s original opening night on March 13, 2020, then was forced to close due to the onset of Covid-19.

Director Kathy Phipps never gave up on the musical, recasting where it was necessary, instilling patience and a sense of hopefulness into her cast and crew that the show would one day be accomplished. She won her battle – the show is on!

The von Trapp children

Rodgers and Hammerstein’s The Sound of Music is certainly a familiar piece and a good one to bring this theatre company back into performance. Nearly everyone knows the tale of Maria and the von Trapps – the romantic aspects of Captain von Trapp and Maria’s coming together, plus the added successes of the singing family in Europe and around the world.

The story is told here by a cast filled with talented young people. These troupers are well drilled and developed. The many musical highlights include: the combined voices of the nuns and postulants in close harmony work for various hymns throughout the show, the featured performances by the children’s group – who work together so well on “Do-Re-Mi”, “The Lonely Goatherd”, and “So Long, Farewell”, as well as Jocelyne Brake’s strong voice for Mother Abbess’ “Climb Every Mountain”.

Elijah Beasley and Elise Scrogham as Captain von Trapp and Maria

Undoubtedly, the most stunning performance is given by Elise Scrogham, who takes the role of Maria to a high plane. Ms. Scrogham’s beautiful, full voice – which she seems to offer in an effortless manner – is truly a treat as she performs Maria’s catalogue of songs – “The Sound of Music”, “My Favorite Things”, the many songs she teaches the children, and a quite lovely rendition of “An Ordinary Couple”. Her program notes state that she will soon be entering college as a business major. I do hope she will find some way to continue to entertain us with her outstanding performance skills.

Others offer well-formed characterizations: Elijah Beasley is a strong and stern Captain von Trapp, Maura Phipps is both coquettish and comical in her rendition as the Captain’s fiancée Elsa Schraeder, and Nathan Ellenberger fills the stage will his angular, stylized Max Detweiler. Finally, Rebekah Barajas and Aidan Morris give spirited performances as Louisa and Rolf, respectively.

Nathan Ellenberger and Maura Phipps as Max and Elsa

The supporting cast is large and very proficient – always seeming to know where to go and what to say there. And the deck crew, which performs the task of setting and resetting the stage for the many locations in the show, deserves special mention for a flawless job.

The one area that seemed lacking was a technical one – we were too often treated to microphones either that weren’t turned on or were not cued on time. This led to a character’s first words upon entry onstage being blocked out, then subsequently heard after a switch was belatedly turned on in the booth. Entire renditions of songs were missed as several performers’ mikes did not work at all. I feel bad for those who had to endure this in their performance, and worse for the crew people trying to find out what was the matter.

Indeed, I have just learned that the theatre company has hired technicians from the venue to handle the sound cues and the mike operations. That is truly a problem. Above all however, this is something that can be corrected and likely will be.

Bottomline: Director Phipps has once again pulled resources from all over our area, managed to outlast the pandemic, and has given opportunities to young people to build a show and create memories that will last a lifetime. Agape is a wonderful theatre company and I look forward to future productions.

Agape Performing Arts Company’s The Sound of Music is only offering performances through June 6th. For tickets and information, please go to https://agapeshows.org/ .

  • – Photos by Antonio Chapital