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‘The Sound of Music’ opens at Great Falls High on Thursday with all-star cast

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Lindsay Joliff
Lindsay Jolliff stars as Maria Rainer in the Miss Linda Productions showing of “The Sound of Music.”

By Jake Sorich

Miss Linda Productions this weekend shows what’s possible on stage when you take some of the area’s best professional actors, singers, dancers and other various theater technicians and let them perform one the most beloved musicals in Broadway history.
“The Sound of Music” opens Thursday at 7:30 p.m. at the Great Falls High auditorium. It runs again Friday and Saturday at 7:30 and at 2 p.m. on Sunday.

The show is directed by Joel Corda and produced/choreographed by Linda Fuller. It stars Lindsay Jolliff as Maria Rainer, Jason Hodne as Captin Georg von Trapp, Mary Rapkoch Dupis as the Mother Abbess, Sarah Raines as Sister Berthe, Rachel Hegg as Sister Margaretta, Jennifer Cantley as Sister Sophia, Guilherme Poelsma as Franz, Anne Vannatta as Frau Schmidt, Aubrey Rearden as Elsa Schraeder, Zachary Dennis as Rolf Gruber, Darryl Stevens as Max Detweiler, Lindsey Nussbaum as Herr Zeller.

This is Jolliff’s second go at “Sound of Music,” as she played the eldest von Trapp daughter Liesl in the Broadway Rose Theater Company’s production in Portland two years ago.

She said being in the lead role this time has been a blast because she identifies with Maria, even if her own life is quite different.

“I feel like myself, I’m a lot like Maria,” she said. “The song ‘How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria,’ I think describes me particularly because I don’t take the normal, straight path, so I didn’t feel like I had to stray too far from myself, (although) her journey is very different than mine.”

Raines said having Jolliff’s presence in the show has made a big difference for everyone involved.

“Even though I feel like everyone in the cast is an excellent singer and performer, watching rehearsals, you see how Lindsay classes up the joint,” she said. “We’re all a little better because she inspires us.”

The Sound of Music 1

And while this show may be Jolliff’s first real introduction to Great Falls (keeping in mind she was also in the University of Great Falls productions of “Decision Height” and “South Pacific,”) for Hodne, the male lead, it’s a farewell of sorts.

Just a few days after the final curtain is closed on “The Sound of Music,” Hodne will be headed to the sunny campus of Florida State University to study American Religious History.

He said while it’s been a short tour of duty in the Great Falls theater scene, he said he’s already developed lasting relationships that will continue even after he’s gone.

“It’s been great and there have been so many people I’m getting to know and now to say goodbye it’s a shame, but I’ll be back in Great Falls in the future. I made so many connections in past 4 months I’m not going to let go and I’m grateful for that.”

Hodne said he’s especially enjoyed performing the song “Edelweiss” as he has a personal connection to it.
“’Edelweiss’ is a song close to my heart. I always remember watching ‘Sound of Music’ growing up and it was always my dad’s favorite song. Watching it is the only time I saw him cry, so to be performing ‘Edelweiss’ is cool.”

Along with the highly skilled actors and singers, Raines said a huge aspect that will separate this show from any others is the inclusion of the full orchestra.
She said as the choir director at the University of Great Falls, having a music director to take cues from while on stage is a huge plus.

“It’s really cool to be there and be able to see the conductor out of the corner of your eye and feel that part of it,” she said. “And since my background is choir, I’m a professional choir member and teacher, looking at a conductor is what you do, so having that anchor is exciting and an organic part of the performance for everyone, for the audience as well.”

Finally, Dennis said for him, it’s been an interesting experience being back performing at Great Falls High now as an adult, as he was a theater student at the school before attending the New York University Tisch School of Arts, where he received a BFA in Drama.

“I actually got my start with half this cast, and then Joel actually started teaching at Great Falls High my sophomore year so I had him those three years,” he said. “And Aubrey (Rearden) was in ‘Beauty and the Beast’ and ‘The Secret Garden,” and Jen (Cantley) vocal directed and musical directed ‘Beauty and the Beast’ so it’s kind of fun replaying everything like it’s 8 years ago. It’s funny, Jen was like ‘Wow, I haven’t heard you sing since ‘The Secret Garden,’’ but things have been different since then, I’ve had a little growing up happening in that time.”

For more on this weekend’s show, visit facebook.com/events/1427864604142063 online.

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