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The Sound of Music

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."

Cast:
Maria - Dale Kristien
Capt. Von Trapp - Kevin Dobson
Mother Abbess - Dale Franzen

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.”

The Sound of Music

Pasadena Civic Auditorium; 2,987 seats; $47 top

Production: M. Edelman and Space Agency Concerts & Theatricals present the Theatre League production of a musical with music by Richard Rodgers and lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II; book, Howard Lindsay and Russel Crouse, suggested by "The Trapp Family Singers" by Maria Augusta Trapp; directed by Harvey Medlinsky.

Creative: Musical director, Lloyd Cooper; choreographer, Peggy Hickey; lighting, Kim Killingsworth; sound, Mark Cowburn; costume coordinator, Margie Bell. Opened, reviewed Dec. 2, 1993; closed Dec. 5.

Cast: Maria - Dale Kristien
Capt. Von Trapp - Kevin Dobson
Mother Abbess - Dale Franzen
With: Roberta Wall, Debby Rosenthal, Kelly Britt, Larry McLellan, Leanna Polk , Danny Bergold, Megan McGinnis, Mitchell John Allen, Jeannette Brox, Lauren Sassano, Alicia Sassano, Kelly Britt, Mark McBride, Jana Robbins, Georgia Spelvin, Barry Dennen, Robert Bruce, Allison Kalmus, Jerome Loeb, Anne Rittenhouse, Laura Marie Crosta, Lynn Shubert, Darlene Bonaparte, Shira Hadari, Roseanne Hill, Katie Jensen, Therese Lee, Leslie Mauldin, Cece Moore, Andrea Morese, Jennifer Paule.

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