Casting actors in musicals who truly can sing: This is just one of my favorite things. It is apparently not a priority, however, with the producers of the Pasadena Civic Auditorium’s new Best of Broadway series, which had its brief run this past weekend with an uneven production of “The Sound of Music.”
Rodgers & Hammerstein’s final musical, with its glorious score and awkward, dramatically unconvincing book, needs strong singing actors to make it work. For one of the key roles, however, the producers decided to go with a (presumably audience-grabbing) TV star who proved totally inadequate in the role.
As Capt. Von Trapp, Kevin Dobson was not only unable to carry a tune; he didn’t appear to have a clue who the character is.
To charge up to $ 47 a ticket and present a performance of this level is a disgrace.
His Maria, Dale Kristien, does considerably better, though her perf is not without problems. The former Christine at the Ahmanson’s “Phantom of the Opera,” Kristien seemed uncomfortable in this role in her early scenes, regularly falling back on mannerisms.
But she ultimately came through, making a lovely and charming Maria, although the somewhat pinched quality of her voice made it less than ideal for Richard Rodgers’ music.
The generally strong supporting cast was led by Dale Franzen, who embodied wisdom and compassion as Mother Abbess; Leanna Polk, believable as confused and scared Liesl; and Barry Dennen, suitably cynical as concert promoter Max Detweiler.
Director Harvey Medlinsky didn’t have any fresh ideas on how to present this material, but to his credit he kept the cuteness level in the children’s scenes down to a bare minimum. The sets, by the San Bernardino Civic Light Opera (designer uncredited), are functional but not particularly evocative or opulent.
Music director Lloyd Cooper kept tempos crisp but unrushed. For the record, the song “An Ordinary Couple” was replaced with the love duet from the film version, “Something Good.”