Elevate Productions is pleased to announce their return to the stage with Rodger and Hammerstein's charming classic, The Sound of Music. Sure to delight audiences of all ages, eight performances will take place, right here in the Front Range, on June 25 at 7:00pm; June 26 at 10:00am, 2:30pm, 7:00pm; June 27 at 2:30pm and 7:00pm; June 28 at 7:00pm; June 29 at 6:00pm at the Colorado Springs Christian School, 4855 Mallow Road in Colorado Springs.
“It's extremely exciting to be one of the first groups to bring live theater back to Colorado Springs,” shares Elevate Productions Manager and Choreographer, Bethanny Jorenby-Shea. “We are elated to bring audiences the jubilance of a live show, some maybe for the first time ever and some, very likely, for the first time in over a year!”
Jorenby-Shea has been involved in the performing arts as a choreographer, director, casting assistant, and performer for dozens of shows. She has been on staff at Colorado Ballet Society for six years and directed Elevate Productions' debut production in 2017 of The Music Man, which won a Pikes Peak Arts Council award.
“It’s wonderful to collaborate and work with people after a year of institutionalized division and isolation,” says Ray Brown, who portrays Max Detweiler, true and loyal friend to the Von Trapp family. “People need other people, and people fare better when they are involved in the arts. The social dynamic we’ve observed over the last 16 months was likely as damaging mentally to some as the virus was to others. It’s time to unite over something good and fun.”
Brown graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Theater & Directing from Colorado Christian University and studied acting for a year at the Denver Center Theater Company. He stepped away from pursuing an acting career to raise a family, but he’s continued to work on productions as opportunities presented themselves, including Elevate Productions’ Chitty Chitty Bang Bang as Baron Bomburst and The Music Man as a School Board Member, as well as the Grandfather in United Methodist Church’s Heidi.
“It means so much that we get to perform in person! Live theater is an incredibly valuable part of our culture that has been missing for so long. I hope that we bring merriment and optimism into the lives of our patrons,” explains Kallie Kay, who portrays Liesel Von Trapp--the eldest of the seven Von Trapp children. Kay has been in many musical theater productions with various performance companies in California, Virginia, and here in the Springs, including Rafiki in Christian Youth Theater’s The Lion King, A Manhattan Newsie in Starz Theatre Company’s Newsies, and Lucy Van Pelt in Christian Youth Theater Colorado Springs’s You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown.
“We specifically chose The Sound of Music because it's a favorite for audiences and performers alike,” continues Jorenby-Shea. “It's a joyful, feel-good show, but also very substantial in some of the themes and conflicts it presents. There's much more depth to the show than audiences will typically catch in one viewing.”
The Sound of Music was the final collaboration between Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II and was destined to become the world's most beloved musical. It opened at Broadway's Lunt-Fontanne Theatre on November 16, 1959. Featuring a trove of cherished songs, including "Climb Ev'ry Mountain," "My Favorite Things," "Do Re Mi," "Sixteen Going on Seventeen" and the title number, “The Sound of Music,” the musical won the hearts of audiences worldwide, earning five Tony Awards and five Oscars, and ran for 1,443 performances. In 1965, the motion picture version of The Sound of Music was released and made Hollywood history, becoming the most popular movie musical ever made.
The inspirational story, based on the memoir of Maria Augusta Trapp, follows an ebullient postulate who serves as governess to the seven children of the imperious Captain Von Trapp, bringing music and joy to the household. But as the forces of Nazism take hold of Austria, Maria and the entire Von Trapp family must make a moral decision.
“This story is one of courage, discovery, redemption, and enjoyment, but most of all it’s a story of learning how to love life again,” says Kay. “The Von Trapps have been devastated since their mother died, missing the happiness of family. Maria came and turned everything around. She taught them how to have fun and, most of all, she showed them love.”
“As a middle school music teacher, I find a great deal of joy in working with children and teens,” notes Anna Saks, who is portraying Maria Rainer. “Maria's story is an inspiration to me because of her devotion to the children under her care as well as the way in which she used music to teach important life lessons. Her conviction to carry out what she was called to do in the face of opposition was equally moving. The fact that her story is true impacts me all the more.”
“Not only is it a family-sized love story, but it’s also a man's response to an imposing and invasive evil--represented by the Nazi army,” explains Brown. “Captain Von Trapp is pressured from within the walls of his home and from outside forces, yet he never gives in. This is what makes him the hero we see in the show. The real message of the musical is the question, ‘What price are you willing to pay for what you know is right?’"
“There's much more to the story than just the happy Do-Re-Mi we all remember and love,” adds Jorenby-Shea. “This show is full of all the characters and songs beloved by several generations, but it also includes elements, such as songs and more developed minor characters, you may not expect if you are only familiar with the film version--they tell rich parts of the story.”
When speaking to the cast, it’s hard to determine whether they are most excited about performing The Sound of Music, performing in front of a live audience, or performing together as a company.
“Singing has been a central part of my life for as long as I can remember, so the opportunity to sing such classic and beloved songs with this amazing cast is exhilarating,” exclaims Saks.
“I have loved The Sound of Music since I was little, so bringing it to life on stage is such a privilege,” says Kay. “I am actually the oldest daughter of seven children, so this role isn’t too far from my actual life.”
“Without a doubt, I am thrilled to be able to sing songs and dance with my daughter, Kaitlyn who is playing Elsa,” shares Brown. “We’ve worked on several shows, but we’ve never performed on stage together. I’m proud to share the stage with both actresses playing Elsa, but to be able to dance and sing with my daughter Kaitlyn is something I’ll always cherish.”
Elevate Productions is a community theatre production company in residence at Colorado Ballet Society. Their goal is to elevate the performance abilities of every member of the company, no matter their age or ability level upon coming into the company for seasonal musicals.
“As in every Colorado Ballet Society production, our aim is to present top quality, family-friendly entertainment that our families are proud to be part of and excited to invite their friends and family to attend,” explains Colorado Ballet Society owner and director and Elevate Productions Producer, Patricia Hoffman.
“This cast and crew have been one of the best Elevate has had to date, and that doesn't just have to do with talent,” declares Jorenby-Shea. “They embody the best of what community theater is about: everyone chipping in and working together to produce something beautiful while forming connections and friendships. Cast members are eager to support and encourage one another and truly enjoy one another's company. No one in the show seems to be in it for themselves, no matter how talented they are: everyone has been concerned with the greater good of the cast and show as a whole, displaying more humility, joy, and grace than I've ever seen amongst a cast and crew.”
“The number of people spending time and energy on this production is amazing. It does not matter what role or job someone is doing, they are putting their best into it,” notes David Corder, an international performer who studied Opera, Composition, and Musical Theatre Performance at Carnegie-Mellon University who will be playing Captain Georg von Trapp in all eight shows. “I am very happy to be working with so many young and enthusiastic talents. It helps me to be hopeful for the future of the arts.”
“The production culture Elevate has established is both energizing and refreshing,” says Brown. “Theater doesn’t need to be edgy, vulgar, or grotesque to be quality; many production companies seem to be edgy just for the sake of being edgy. Elevate is as concerned about the actors’ experiences backstage and in rehearsal as they are about what shows up on stage on opening night. In particular, the children who are involved in the shows are honored with a nurturing and wholesome experience; to that end, the adults are expected to be good role models. I love this approach since these very children are our future directors, producers, and backstage crews.”
“At Elevate Productions, they think outside of the box and the actors throw themselves into their characters,” reveals Emily Safyan, who is an experienced performer in children’s community theater in Colorado Springs and will be playing Brigitta von Trapp. “I’m looking forward to interacting with my siblings on stage and building relationships with them. I’m very fortunate to perform in front of a live audience with a cast that loves and supports me.”
“The best part of Elevate Productions is working with so many other talented actors and the community that we have built during this season,” says Kensington Van Hook, who portrays Marta von Trapp and has been in every Elevate production since it launched. “Since my family will be moving to California this summer, it is such a blessing to have the opportunity to perform one last time in Colorado. It has been an honor and joy to work with Mrs. Jorenby-Shea throughout the years. She is a wonderful teacher and a kind advocate. I appreciate all she has done for me and my family.”
“Working together as a team with the directors and cast to produce something greater than ourselves is the highlight for me,” shares Saks. “Their friendships are sweet and their pursuit of excellence in performance is inspiring. I am really excited to see how we all mature into our roles to present the story with real sincerity.”
The journey to the stage hasn’t always been easy for this incredible team. As with many performing arts events this year, this production faced many challenges. One of the biggest was finding a venue willing to rent their stage to a live musical.
“The landscape of the performing arts industry has been changed for years to come as a result of the pandemic and subsequent shutdowns,” explains Jorenby-Shea. “With smaller audience sizes still necessary while the costs of production remaining the same or having increased over the last year, I feel we are currently at risk of losing affordable access to live performing arts. We need the arts to remain accessible to people from every walk of life. Coming to see this show is not only a fun, family-friendly activity but a way to support one of the industries that have been hit hardest by the pandemic. It's a way to help keep the arts accessible to everyone in our community, not to just those who can afford a ticket on Broadway or at the Buell.”
“I am thrilled for the return of some semblance of normalcy and for the return of fine arts, which I hope will help to facilitate healing and unite our community,” declares Saks.
THE SOUND OF MUSIC is presented by arrangement with Concord Theatricals on behalf of The Rodgers & Hammerstein Organization. www.concordtheatricals.com
Who: Elevate Productions
What: The Sound of Music features 47 local performers in two casts for one of the most beloved musicals of all time!
When: June 25 at 7:00pm | June 26 at 10:00am & 2:30pm & 7:00pm |
June 27 at 2:30pm & 7:00pm | June 28 at 7:00pm | June 29 at 6:00pm
Where: The Colorado Springs Christian School
4855 Mallow Road | Colorado Springs, CO 80907
Tickets: $22; $16 for 12 and under and seniors at: www.danceinthesprings.com/tickets
Figure 1: The Von Trapp Children Rehearsing| PC: Gracie Mientka
Figure 2: Maria Scheffel as Maria Rainer with the Von Trapp Children Rehearsing | PC: Gracie
Figure 3: Anna Saks as Maria Rainer with the Von Trapp Children Rehearsing | PC: Gracie Mientka
Figure 4: Von Trapp Children Rehearsing | PC: Gracie Mientka
Figure 5: Maria Scheffel as Maria Rainer with the Von Trapp Children Rehearsing | PC: Gracie Mientka
Figure 6: Anna Saks as Maria Rainer with the Von Trapp Children Rehearsing | PC: Gracie Mientka
Figure 7: Maria Scheffel as Maria Rainer with the Von Trapp Children Rehearsing | PC: Gracie Mientka
Figure 8: The Von Trapp Children Rehearsing | PC: Gracie Mientka
Figure 9: The Von Trapp Children Rehearsing | PC: Gracie Mientka
Figure 10: The Von Trapp Children Rehearsing | PC: Gracie Mientka
Figure 11: Maria Scheffel as Maria Rainer with the Von Trapp Children Rehearsing | PC: Gracie Mientka