Memories made with The Sound of Music

Nathan Liewicki
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Members of the von Trapp family, (left to right) Marta, Maria, Gretl and Friedrich, sing a song during the opening act of Briercrest College and Seminary's opening night performance of The Sound of Music on Friday at the Landing.

Briercrest opens second Summer Stage with timeless classic

There was something special about Briercrest College and Seminary’s opening night performance of The Sound of Music for Ron de Jager.

An associate professor of music and voice at Briercrest, de Jager has acted in and directed numerous plays, but he’d never done so with his daughter, Alora.

That changed Friday at the Landing when de Jager played Captain Georg von Trapp and his daughter played Gretl von Trapp, the youngest of the seven von Trapp children in the play.

“It’s one of the highlights of the show for me – to have her on stage,” de Jager told the Times-Herald after Friday’s performance of the timeless classic. “She just turned five and picks up things so quickly that when I see her there it’s hard not to get emotional, especially when they come out singing.”

He didn’t even spend much time assisting Alora with her lines. De Jager left that in the capable hands of technology.

“She actually played the CD and the movie over and over and picked her lines up very quickly,” said de Jager.

According to de Jager, Alora also knew where all of the cast members needed to be positioned on stage during the performance.

One of two productions held in May and June as part of Briercrest’s Summer Stage, The Sound of Music featured many of the songs made famous by the cast from the 1965 film.

Dochelle Knowles, who said her fingers felt great following the opening night show, played all of those songs, including “My Favourite Things” and “Do-Re-Mi” on the piano.

“I’ve played for lots of different groups, so I’m used to playing all day long,” said Knowles. “I really enjoy it.”

She only had about five weeks to learn all the music, but said many hours were spent perfecting her keystrokes.

Lots of work went into other aspects of the production, including sewing and the construction of bannisters. De Jager said he consulted YouTube videos on how to build the bannisters, and with the help of a group of guys, de Jager built and painted them so they were ready for opening night.

“You have to be a jack of all trades when you do theatre like this,” said de Jager, who noted the production is an opportunity for cast and crew members to share the gifts they have been given.

Madison Wagner-Powers shared her gift of singing with those in attendance.

A new Briercrest graduate, Wagner-Powers assumed the coveted role of Maria von Trapp.

“The stage is where I get to escape my everyday life and I just get up there and take on whoever the character is,” she said. “It’s my passion.

“When I was little I used to dance around the living room to Maria, and my sister and I would watch the movie all the time.”

Wagner-Powers said it was slightly intimidating when she found out she would actually be starring as Maria. As such, she had to watch the film again.

“I was like, 'Nobody can be Julie Andrews. Nobody can ever match that,’” said Wagner-Powers. “So I had to come into my own a lot and figure out who the cast I was working with and how to connect with her.”

Briercrest will have eight more The Sound of Music performances over the coming weeks, all of which will be held on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays.

Nathan Liewicki can be reached at 306-691-1256 or follow him on Twitter @liewicks

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