By ALEX OWENS
The hills around Helix High School should be alive with the sound of music come Oct. 11.
That’s because the Highland Players are presenting the classic musical “Sound of Music” for seven performances.
It’s the first time in a while that the Helix Drama Department has presented a classic musical, but director Paul Reams is singing the praises of the stage version, which is different than the film version (because it’s hard to set up the Austrian alps on most theater stages).
“Obviously, the film is able to do things like having the Von Trapps sing each line of ‘Do Re Mi’ at a different location,” he laughed. “That’s not at all what this looks like.”
The original stage play isn’t as iconic as the movie, so Reams was happily surprised when he reread it before choosing it for the new season.
“People forget how well written the book is,” Reams said. “There’s a great moment where Max Detwiller and Baroness Elsa Schräder are trying to convince Captain Von Trapp to do the politically expedient choice which is easier at the time. But, ultimately, he decides to run off to the mountains and lose everything in the process.”
The cast is very diverse — definitely more diverse than 1930s-era Austria — and Reams was concerned that might not be totally realistic. Ultimately, he decided to go with the best actors for each part regardless of background.
“It may not be totally realistic, but that’s how most modern versions are doing it these days,” he said.
One role was easier to cast than the others, that of 5-year-old Gretel. Though elementary school students don’t attend Helix, Reams was able to find the perfect actor right in his own house: his own daughter Lucy.
“She’s in the third grade and she comes over after school for the rehearsals. It’s a real joy and she loves the students,” he said. “It’s really beautiful being able to integrate work and family.”
Because the main selling point of “The Sound of Music” are songs like the title tune, “My Favorite Things,” and “Climb Every Mountain,” Reams figures audience members can’t help but join in with the cast member.
“I hope people do hum along, but there is this dark tale about people making hard choices and experiencing a real sense of loss because of it.”
“The Sound of Music” will run Oct. 11-19. Evening performances start at 7, with a 6 p.m. performance on Thursday, Oct. 17. There will be 2 p.m. matinees on Oct. 12 and 19. Tickets are $10 for non-students, $8 for students with ASB cards, available at bit.ly/2kMoIIw.
— Alex Owens is a La Mesa-based freelance journalist.