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The Sound of Music comes alive in Atmore

By By ROBERT BLANKENSHIP
Advance Managing Editor
The Atmore Arts Council is hoping their latest project will become one of their audience's favorite things as it unveils one of its most elaborate and challenging productions yet Rodgers and Hammerstein's The Sound of Music.
With classic vocal arrangements and a timeless script, The Sound of Music centers around the true story of a talented Austrian family, the Von Trapps, who are forced to deal with family issues and ultimately political issues as well with the changing political climate in pre-World War II Europe.
Sherrie Hursh will play Maria, the lead character in the play, who was sent as a governess for the seven Von Trapp children. The role requires both acting and vocal skills, as it is Maria who brings the joy of music back into the strict, military-like household.
In addition to his directing responsibilities, Johnson will play the role of the stringent father, Georg, who in time succumbs to Maria's charming wit and caring nature. Johnson has acted in many of the Art Council's past projects and is a voice instructor.
But, some of the players would have to be slightly inexperienced, as the play requires roles for the seven Von Trapp children. The roles will be played by Elizabeth Glavan as the 16'-going-on-17'-year-old daughter, Liesl; Jeremy Troyer will play Frederick; Megan Adams, Louisa; Pierce Robinson, Kurt; Courtney Yoder, Brigitta; Ellen Johnson, Marta and Catlyn Luttrell will play Gretl, the youngest of the group.
Leonard Hursh will be playing the role of Rolf, a messenger boy and the object of Liesl's affection.
The competition for the children roles made the casting process a tough job for the directors.
In all there are 42 cast members, five technical crewmembers and a number of aids. Johnson said one of the reasons he decided to try The Sound of Music was because he knew the talent existed to pull it off.
This combination of dedication and talent is why Johnson decided it was time to try this particular musical.
Production of the play has been ongoing since May.
Among those things were the beginning blueprints for the various sets needed. In order to accommodate the many scenes, three extra stages have been added to Escambia County High School's auditorium. In all, Johnson estimates that 50 to 60 hours of work have went into the building of sets.
The cast began their work toward opening night about ten weeks ago. A choral group, who will be nuns in the production, has been practicing at a separate location. The chorus and actors began working together this past week and will go through about five run-throughs before the play is ready to open.
Rounding out the cast will be Alison Robinson as Mother Abess; Ruth Weber as Sister Berthe; Mary Beachy as Sister Margaretta; Judy Stahly as Sister Sophia; Lisa Greenwood as Sister Bernice; Gilda Stubben as Sister Agitha; Susan Currie as Sister Katherine; Carl Martin as Franz the Butler; Patty Castleberry as Frau Schmidt; Lynette Schrock as Elsa Schraeder; Jerold Stahly as Max; Pam Dees as Frau Zeller; Phil Weber as Baron Elberfield; Debbie Luttrell as Baroness Elberfield; Terry Bumann as Ursula; Eva Currie as Eva and Kerrianne Castleberry will play a new postulant.
Helping to a great extent with this year's show were members of the Mennonite community.
The show is also featuring the talent of a performance director, Rachel Chambers. She is in charge of directing during the performances and run-throughs.
In all, Johnson said everything about this production is bigger than the Art Council's former projects.
The curtains will open for audiences Aug. 18 through 20. ShowTime's will be 7 p.m. on Aug. 18 and 19, and at 2 p.m. on Aug. 20.