‘Sound of Music’ debuts April 26 at Smithfield Little Theatre

Published 9:37 am Wednesday, April 24, 2024

For the first time in 38 years, “The Sound of Music” will return to the Smithfield Little Theatre.

April 26 is opening night for the 1959 Broadway musical based on the memoir of Maria Augusta Trapp, a postulant who leaves her convent to become governess to the seven children of Captain Georg Von Trapp as the forces of Nazism take hold in Austria.

“It’s a musical near and dear to my heart,” said Karen Willard, who played Maria in SLT’s 1985 production at the former Cotton Gin Theatre where Smithfield Foods’ corporate headquarters now stands.

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Willard, who retired in 2020 after teaching music for 40 years in Isle of Wight County Schools, was in third grade when the 1965 movie adaptation starring Julie Andrews came out, and has been enamored with the show ever since.

“I would go and listen to the record over and over,” Willard said.

She returns to SLT this year as the show’s youth vocalist director. SLT held youth and adult auditions in January.

“I love working with children,” Willard said.

In her place as Maria this time is Monique Melchor, a graduate of Old Dominion University’s F. Ludwig Diehn School of Music. Andreas Zolakis plays Georg.

New to SLT is the show’s director, Dillon Bates. The show will also feature several returning faces, including Trey Gwaltney, who played Rolf Gruber in the 1985 production and this year will direct SLT’s orchestra.

Orchestra members include a first-chair violinist who by day is a Virginia Symphony Orchestra musician and a bass player who’s a lawyer by day.

Performances run April 26 through May 19 on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 2:30 p.m.

Tickets can be purchased at https://www.smithfieldlittletheatre.org/. Some performance dates have already sold out.