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A Masterclass Review Of Classic Theatre’s Production Of The Sound Of Music In Cobalt Ontario


Sister Margaretta, Sister Berthe, Sister Sophia and Mother Abbess

Sister Margaretta, Sister Berthe, Sister Sophia and Mother Abbess

Big things do indeed come in small packages!

Recently, my husband and I had the pleasure of attending the fabulous live production of Cobalt Classic Theatre’s Production of  Rodgers and Hammerstein’s, The Sound Of Music.
 
We became aware of this production through our eldest daughter, Karen Larocque, who lives with her husband and 3-year old daughter in Haileybury, Ontario.

 
Haileybury is small town situated in the region of  Temiskaming Shores, Ontario, Canada.  For this production, the Classic Theatre attracted people from Temiskaming Shores, as well as those from surrounding communities such as Earlton, Engleheart, Belle Valley and, of course, Cobalt.

Karen’s role in the musical was that of the whimsical and playful nun, Sister Margaretta – perfect typecasting. She truly identified with this character because she is such a positive and encouraging person in her realtime role as wife, mother and daughter. 

Additionally, she came to this production equipped with solid musical skills and a beautiful voice, so I knew that, in this sense, her contribution to the show would be extremely welcomed.

Maria, Captain Von Trapp and Children

Maria, Captain Von Trapp and Children

However, my general assessment prior to seeing the show was this: there would be a lot of heart and soul incorporated into the musical to compensate for a shortage of singing and acting talent. The communities are small – how would they ever find the right people to act and sing within the boundaries of the characters from the musical?

However, my short-sighted analysis was immediately disputed. While seated in a very cramped, yet quaint and sold-out theatre,  my heart swelled as I heard the pitch-perfect nuns’ chorus in the opening scene. Their voices just soared as they sang their beautiful Gregorian Chant,  seamlessly seguing into gorgeous, proportionate harmony. I was literally moved to tears. Who were these singers? Well, one, of course, was my daughter, but it appears that she was not the only seasoned singer located in this small community.

As I sat there mesmerized by their voices, I still had no idea what was ahead of me – not a clue! 

However, I soon found out, as a young lady named Patti Campbell, playing the role of Maria, meticulously serenaded the audience with the title theme, The Sound Of Music.  Her voice was – in a word -scrumptious. Yet, it was more than that – it  was filled with warmth and nuance that would be the envy of many professional singers presently performing on the Broadway stage.

Patti Campbell As Maria

Patti Campbell As Maria

Anyone who has seen The Sound Of Music realizes that the role of Maria is a very difficult one -she is on stage 90% of the time over the course of 3.5 hours. The show truly centers around her. And, I have to say, that Ms. Campbell was absolutely brilliant – as an actress and as a singer – throughout the entire performance. She never missed a line, she never missed a note, nada! She was truly, truly extraordinary.

And the credit doesn’t stop there. Patti Campbell was also the music director for the show and she weaved musical magic and charisma from these performers.

One has to admire her tremendous work ethic in transforming these wonderful singers into professional, disciplined vocalists.  All of the performers benefited from Patti Campbell’s  inspired, well-formulated vocal coaching and, as a result of hard work and fortitude, sounded impeccable in their respective roles.

However, working along with her was another very talented, very focused lady by the name of Angela Drainville-Ashick.   Under her masterful direction, the various characters in the The Sound Of Music came to life.  She meticulously guided them and directed them in a very significant way to reveal the essence of their character. 

And, in this enormous task,  she was indeed a success! At no point in time did I think that one person was ill-suited for his or her role. The acting was superlative – truly believable – and made you laugh and cry from the depths of your soul.

Von Trapp Children

Von Trapp Children

For the majority of the cast members, this was a brand new musical experience. In real life they were students, educators , business people, homemakers, etc., who came equipped with varying degrees of past theatrical and musical experience.  However, make no mistake about it – these “once upon a time” regular, everyday people became closely connected to their roles and, as a result, created truly genuine and authentic performances.

As one who has worked with young vocalists for the majority of my life, I marvelled at  and so appreciated the talent that emanated from each of the Von Trapp children, wonderfully depicted by Graham Conti as Frederich, Jenna Gilbert as Liesel, Jamie Gabbani as Louisa, (this young lady has a voice of gold)  Jayda Conti and Hannah Fedechko-Conroy alternating as  Brigitta, Cole Tysick and Noah Angrove alternating as Kurt , Brooklyn Tysick and Emily Hall alternating as Marta and  Iowyn Angrove and Emma Brown alternating as adorable, little Gretl.

Jeff Manners’ potrayal of Captain Georg Von Trapp was distinguished and refined and his voice sounded like “buttah”. He was a believable father figure on that stage and the transformation from a stern patriarch to a compassionate, caring father and husband was flawless, heartwrenching and so very believable.

Also, the chemistry between Captain Von Trapp and Maria was perfectly formulated and inspired, due to a combination of their natural acting skills and Angela  Drainville-Ashick’s  visionary guidance.

Judy Pace was truly inspirational in her characterization of Maria’s spiritual mentor, the Mother Abbess. She characterized her role with dignity and decorum, providing  the perfect amount of inspiration and guidance to Maria in her turbulent journey from Postulant to Governess to wife and mother. 

Judy Pace as Mother Abbess

Judy Pace as Mother Abbess

And her rich, resonant singing of “Climb Every Mountain” was everything the song should be – a memorable and uplifting prayer of hope for the future. And, once again, the strength and beauty of the nuns’ chorus added majesty and passion to this show-stopping moment in the musical. 

Additionally, Georg Von Trapp’s “soon to be ex” fiancee, Baroness Elsa Schräder, and his friend, Max Detweiler, capably portrayed by  Sharon Tysick and Matt Duke respectively,  were just excellent.  They pinpointed their characters so very well and added yet another superb artistic layer to an already solid cast of actors and singers.  Both demonstrated innate acting and vocal skills – just wonderful!

The sublime vocal talent of Alexander Wight as Rolf, Liesl’s boyfriend, was outstanding and Jenna Gilbert as Liesel mirrored his artistry.  Their singing and dancing skills were wonderful -their youthful enthusiasm brought a great big smile to my face. 

Karen Larocque as Sister Margaretta was a strong musical and comical presence on stage. In essence, she was Maria’s sidekick, identifying with her free spirit and bouyant personality.  The playful character of Sister Margaretta provided a wonderful contrast to the more solemn character portrayed by Judy Pace as Mother Abbess.

And I also enjoyed the lovely, diginified presence of Kate Hurtubise-Plante as Sister Berthe and Lana Roberts as Sister Sophia. These talented ladies, along with Karen Larocque and Judy Pace, provided a strong  vocal core for so much of the outstanding choral singing during the musical. 

Maria's Marriage To Captain Von Trapp

Maria's Marriage To Captain Von Trapp

I would also like to applaud the fine work of some special people who were also integral to the overwhelming success of this show: 

  • Conductor Flavio Monopoli for his excellent work in mastering the digital orchestration for the show
  •  Sound Engineer, Ian Auger, for providing the perfect level of sound for every member of the cast. 
  • Costume Design was exquisitely prepared by Bea Demarce and her team of talented sewing elves.
  •  Lighting Design was tastefully produced by Paul McLaren
  • Set Design was stylish and well-conceived by Paul McLaren and Bob Fourier
  • Choreography was wonderfully visualized by Erin-Thompson-Messenger
  • And a special round of applause for producer, Denise Williams.

And here is an interesting tidbit!  After the show was over, I discovered that both Patti Campbell and  Angela  Drainville-Ashick   had a vision for this show – to ensure that  Classic Theatre’s production of  The Sound Of Music was the most professional production in every sense of the word.

Maria, Captain and Children Singing Edelweiss

Maria, Captain and Children Singing Edelweiss

To that end, these determined ladies, with undeterred, passionate vision, established a meeting with the producers of  Toronto Ontario Canada’s production of  The Sound Of Music.   Through their guidance and support, they returned to Cobalt  renewed and transformed and, like “the little engine that could”, upped the pace of the production to a feverish height.

The result was a polished spectacle that had everyone talking long after the the last curtain fell on March 13th, 2009.   Many who had seen the Cobalt production said that the singers and actors rivaled those from the Toronto production and I whole-heartedly agree. 

Maria's Backstage Run To Her Wedding Scene

Maria's Backstage Run To Her Wedding Scene

The Cobalt show may not have had  the big bucks for fancy sets and a huge orchestra, but, the essence of the storyline was a believable and powerful presence throughout Classic Theatre’s production.  No smoke and mirrors here – just pure unadulterated heart and talent coming together to produce excellence.

 Congratulations to the entire cast of Classic Theatre’s Production of  The Sound Of Music. Due to overwhelming demand, two more performances will be held on Saturday, April 11th, at 1:00 P.M. and 7:00 P.M.

Copyright © 2008. MasterclassLady.Com. All rights reserved.


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About Masterclass Lady

Rosanne (Giallonardo) Simunovic began her musical career in Timmins, Ontario. She studied piano with Anne Pizzale and later, at an advanced level, with Soeur Anita Vaugeois (Sister Cecile of Les Soeurs De L’Assomption in Timmins). Her vocal and accompaniment skills were nurtured by her aunt, the late Dorothea Mascioli. When Rosanne graduated from O’Gorman High School, she moved on to the University of Toronto where she continued her piano and vocal studies while attaining a Bachelor of Arts Degree. She was hired as a piano accompanist for several musical companies, most notably, the National Ballet Of Canada. She presently holds an A.R.C.T. Teacher’s Diploma in Voice from the Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto. Rosanne has studied choral conducting with numerous well known Canadian Conductors, including Wayne Riddell of Montreal, Quebec and the internationally renowned Dr. Elmer Iseler. She has been a founding member of numerous community-based arts organizations: the Timmins Arts Council, later known as Arts & Culture Timmins, the Timmins Symphony Orchestra, and, the Timmins Youth Singers…as well as the TYS Alumnus choir, the Timmins Concert Singers. In 1987, she was also selected to be the conductor of the Timmins Board Of Education Choir, comprised of talented students from Grades 5 to 8. In 1988, she was elected to the Board Of Directors of the Ontario Choral Federation (now known as Choirs Ontario), where she served as Chair of the Festivals Committee for six consecutive seasons. In 1996, in honour of the Ontario Choral Federation’s 25th Anniversary, Rosanne was selected as one of 25 recipients of the OCF’s Distinguished Service Award for outstanding contribution to the choral art. The ceremony was presided by Lieutenant Governor, Hal Jackman. In November 1997, Rosanne Simunovic was selected by the Rotary Club Of Timmins to receive the prestigious Paul Harris Award for her years of dedication to the artistic development of young musical talent in Timmins. In August of 2002, Rosanne Simunovic was selected by the Board Of Directors of Choirs Ontario to serve as Conductor of both the Provincial Junior and Teen Choir Camps, now renamed in honour of the Camp Benefactors, Don and Lillian Wright. In November 2002, Rosanne was the one of the recipients of the Commemorative Medal for the Golden Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II, honouring her work in the development of the arts in Timmins. Under Rosanne Simunovic’s direction, the Timmins Youth Singers and the Timmins Concert Singers have been featured in numerous choral festivals and performing opportunities outside of Timmins. In 1985, they were selected to partici

14 Responses to “A Masterclass Review Of Classic Theatre’s Production Of The Sound Of Music In Cobalt Ontario”

  1. Wow! That sounds like an amazing show–wish I could’ve been there! I know that not everyone has a high opinion of “The Sound of Music” but I never found it corny or sugary, especially not the stage version, it’s a true classic and I love it!

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  2. Thanks ReReader. It was truly spectacular. I wasn’t expecting such quality in the performances. The show becomes corny if the actors or actresses are not genuine. And these actors and actresses were definitely not. Overall, it is powerful testament to the strength of the human spirit.

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  3. Hi MCL! What an incredibly WONDERFUL review!! I’ve got tears in my eyes just from reading all that you wrote. Thank you for recognizing and appreciating what a small town can produce!

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  4. My pleasure CookieMonster. I had tears in my eyes writing about it. What a beautiful show! What memories!

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  5. That does sound like a tremendous production of the well loved Sound of Music! I’ve been crazy about this story/musical since I was very young…would love to one day see a live production of it. There’s just something about seeing a production onstage in person…with good, authentic cast members, the story and music can truly come alive. Unfortunately, the only thing I’ve seen in such circumstances would be the Phantom of the Opera in Dallas–though, by no means downplaying that. Phantom was an awe-inspiring performance indeed!
    Wish I could have seen this Sound of Music with you! 🙂

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  6. I wish you could have seen it as well and we could have shared some laughter and tears. It was such a beautiful show – I cannot believe how hard the cast and crew worked. It was such a tremendously moving production.

    Thanks so much StoneRose!:)

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  7. A heartfelt thank you goes out to Mrs. Simunovic who is truly a master class lady. It was certainly a shock for me when I walked out at the end of opening night for curtain call, greeted by a standing ovation. The support of this small community has been overwhelming, but so appreciated. I can tell you first-hand that a lot of hard work has gone into this little production, and I don’t think that anyone was quite prepared for what was eventually to happen. This cast is immensely pleased that everyone has enjoyed the show so much. Thank you all.

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  8. You have every right to be proud of your accomplishment, Jeff. You were simply amazing and so real – perfect for the role. Karen has had only wonderful things to say about you and I can see why. I wish I could be there for the April performance, but I have commitments here in Timmins.

    Take the show on the road! 🙂

    Thank you for your lovely commentary and for taking the time to stop by. I am still talking about this show, as it was such a special, special production. A gem!

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  9. Thank you for your wonderful review and kind words on behalf of all of our cast who may not have read this piece. Your descriptive and moving words also brought tears to my eyes and my only one regret about acting in this production is that I couldn’t see it through the eyes of an unexpecting audience member. It was a thrill to sing and act with such quality performers, both young and older.

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  10. You are most welcome, Sharon. What a believable presence you were on that stage and such a beautiful voice!

    You all should be so very proud of your enormous success with this show.

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  11. Just as an aside, I’ve sat in the Classic Theatre, and I was just in Toronto recently at the Princess of Wales Theatre, and I can say that the Princess of Wales is no less cramped than the Classic.

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  12. Hello,

    I’m not sure if you remember me but we met at Karen and Mikey’s wedding. I’m his sister. I was doing a search to see if Mikey and Karen are on facebook and found this. I never knew that Karen was so talented. That’s awesom.

    Tami, Jon, Caitlyn, Paige and Matthew (Choo) Martell

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  13. Hello Tami!

    What a surprise to hear from you! I must tell Karen and Mike that we connected through this site. I have to resurrect this MCL site – it’s been neglected over the summer. Usually, I add weekly content, so it’s time to get back to business here.

    I hope all is well with you and your beautiful family. We are so excited for Karen and Mike’s second child – due Septembr 29th. It can’t come quickly enough.

    Thanks for stopping by and we hope to see you soon. Send pictures of your children if you can – masterclasslady@hotmail.com

    Bye for now – Rosanne!

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  14. Thank you so much for your Wonderful Review. I know it seems strange to be writing so long after the show, but it would appear my last thank you did not “stick” I was feeling a little nostalgic over our production (probably because the Christmas Season is upon us, and who doesn’t love the Sound of Music at Christmas?)Idecided to revisit the review so I could forward it on to a friend of mine who had been asking about it. I want to sincerely thank you for your extremely kind words and express what an absolute joy it was to do the show. The cast was incredible to work with – the children so eager to learn and absolutely delightful. I’ll admit, I still occasionally get stopped on the street and called Maria. It of course brings on a smile that we have touched so many people. A childhood classic and a dream come true for me to portray the character. It was The Best Time- So Truly, a heartfelt thank you and I’m looking forward to working with Karen again- this time we’re doing ‘Oliver!’
    Best Wishes to you.

    Patti Campbell
    “Maria”

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