All photos by Jerry Gay
The Sound of Music company sings “Do-Re-Mi.” From left to right: Anastacia Konugres, Morgan Apel, Izzy Mar, Camaira Metz, Brian Cropp, and Kianna Louisor. Seated with guitar: Natalia Roberts Buceta. (For slideshow, click on picture above or view thumbnails below.)

SLIDESHOW: Ballard High School gets ready to wow audiences with ‘Sound of Music’

For the past couple of weeks, the Ballard High School “Playermakers” theatre group has been working out the kinks on their upcoming production of “The Sound of Music,” which opens on Thursday, Feb. 28, with a special gala.

If it’s one thing that the students and parents can be proud of, it’s that the play is a self-made production. BHS theatre teacher and director Shawn Riley said there was very little outside involvement in the production and that he himself only sits back and helps direct the proceedings. But the acting, music, singing, sets, lighting and tech, even the stage managing is all done by students.

“It’s a huge sense of community and pride,” Riley said. “And it gets stressful and we get irritated with each other, but that’s all part of the experience.”

In the two times that the Ballard News-Tribune visited last week, and with just a two-day gap between each visit, the group of students had already visibly improved, perfecting pitch, harmony, cues, blocking, lighting and, of course, acting. It bodes well for what is sure to be a special production done by a talented group of students, who, including the students in the orchestra and choir, have won numerous awards and recognitions.

While it’s the third time that Riley has done the show, it will be the first time Ballard High School theatre has performed it. And, as one of America’s most beloved film musicals, there’s just an inkling of pressure on the students.

“I think one thing to be careful of with the show is that everyone loves the movie,” Riley said. The version that BHS will be performing is based on the original stage production of Sound of Music, which will have different scenes, he said.

When asked whether he thought their version of the play would disappoint fans of the film, Riley was unfazed. “No, not at all,” he answered. He explained that people are usually pleasantly surprised by seeing something they didn’t expect.

Senior Natalia Roberts Buceta, who will be playing the lead role of Maria Rainer, is enthusiastic about the play.

“I’m really excited for it. I think it’ll be great,” she said. “I feel like it’s so well known that there’s an air of expectation for this musical. But it’s been fun.”

For Buceta, who has been in musicals for the past three years now, said they have never done anything quite so traditional or big as the Sound of Music, so she has had some getting used to the role of Rainer.

“I think she’s a very fun character, but she’s very naïve … she’s quite complex … it’s sort of a work in progress trying to break down that character and portray her on stage,” she said.

Likewise, fellow senior Frances Steelquist, who mostly has experience as a singer, has been working to perfect her performance.

“This is my first experience in any kind of acting,” Steelquist said. “It’s great working with the director and the other students. They’re just really supportive, and for me as a first time it’s very fulfilling.”

For Steelquist, playing the part of Mother Abbot is a dream come true. Ever since she saw Sound of Music as a child, she had always wanted to play her, she said.

“I’ve always admired the power she has, I feel very honored to play her,” she said. “She’s very complex, which is weird since she doesn’t have a name. It really takes a lot of power to play her. Refined power.”

When it comes to actually acting on the stage, rather than just preparing or rehearsing, Buceta had a hard time putting her finger on how, exactly, she turned into Maria Rainier.

“I feel like when I’m up on stage, it’s sort of a feeling I get,” she said. “I become kind of one with the character.”

Likely, it’s the same kind of experience the other students will have as they attempt to tackle the world-famous musical.

At Thursday’s gala, there will be an extra treat: Duane Chase, who played Kurt von Trapp in the original movie, and Glee guitarist Derik Nelson will be present to talk about their lives and careers.

The Sound of Music opens February 28 at 7:30. Performances are also on March 1, 2, 7, 8, and 9 at 7:30 p.m. Sing-A-Long performance on March 10 at 2:00 p.m. Tickets are $15 for adults and $10 for students and Senior Citizens. Purchase now at All performances at Earl Kelly Performing Arts Center, Ballard High School.

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