By Kristen Miller
DASSEL, COKATO, MN The cast of this summer’s Dassel-Cokato Community Theatre production of “The Sound of Music” is in the midst of rehearsals, gearing up for its four July performances.
“One of the reasons we chose this was because it’s a fairly popular musical,” said production assistant Deb Moen, who also plays Frau Schmidt, the housekeeper.
“We really wanted to follow on the success of “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” (last summer’s community theatre production) with another popular musical because we would like to increase attendance for community theatre,” Moen said, who also serves on the community theater committee.
This is also a musical that hasn’t been done in the community for quite a number of years, Moen said.
In addition, the committee hopes to build interest in the production side of community theatre, drawing more participation all around, explained Colleen Compton, executive director of the Dassel-Cokato Arts Association, a co-sponsor of community theater.
Directing the popular Broadway musical that later became an American film classic is Randy Wilson. It was noted that Dave Metcalf, director of last year’s summer musical, was asked, but declined.
Wilson was the vocal director for “Joseph” and will perform both duties for “The Sound of Music.”
“We’re so excited to have him as a creative director,” Compton said, adding that participants loved working with him in “Joseph” last year. It also happened to be the first year community theater had a vocal director, she said.
Wilson has been directing church and community choirs including the Litchfield Area Male Chorus, for 25 years.
This is his third time directing a musical. This past spring, he directed the Hutchinson Theatre Company’s production of “Forever Plaid.”
Wilson, who is also the mayor of Glencoe, graduated from Dassel-Cokato High School in 1976.
In “The Sound of Music,” Wilson will be working with his fellow classmate and former neighbor, Tracy Hagstrom Durandt.
“This is the first time we’ve done anything like this together,” Durandt said. “So far, it’s been really great.”
Durandt is the director of theatre at Buffalo High School and teaches theater, speech, and English.
Having directed more than 150 plays and musicals, it’s been fun for Durandt to be on the other side of theatre.
“I’m anxious to see how it turns out,” she said, adding that Wilson has a natural instinct when it comes to directing.
Last year, there were 80 people who came out to audition for “Joseph,” which was a record in recent history.
This year, that number was surpassed, with more than 100 people coming out for auditions this past May, according to Compton.
There are 40 members of the cast, ranging in age from 6 years old to the late 60s.
Rehearsals began June 1 and are going very well, Moen said.
“The kids are really working hard and doing well,” she commented, adding that they are in many of the scenes.
The highlight will definitely be the music, Moen said. “My hope is that people will leave with the songs in their head and enjoy the music.”
To accommodate busy summer schedules, the musical will be performed on two weekends in July, as well as a weeknight.
Last year, “Joseph” was only open one weekend.
“I heard from people that they were gone that week and didn’t get to see it,” Compton said.
The story of ‘The Sound of Music’
For those not familiar with the musical, it is based on a true story of the Von Trapp family, who lived in Austria at the onset of World War II.
As a postulant, Maria, played by Kay Wilson (Randy’s wife), leaves an Austrian convent to become the governess to seven children of widower Captain Georg Von Trapp, played by Brian Wilson of Hutchinson, whom she later falls in love with.
In the meantime, Maria provides the Von Trapp children with some musical relief from their otherwise strict father. The children are played by Kathryn Mankenberg (Liesl), Carter Westling (Friedrich), Abby Jo Imberg (Louisa), William Frickstad (Kurt), Leah Aamot (Brigitta), Faith Morfitt (Marta), and Birke Simmons (Gretl).
Maria becomes scared of her romantic feelings for the captain and runs back to the convent where The Mother Abbess, played by Tracy Hagstrom Durant, encourages her to follow her heart. Mother Abbess also tells Maria she can’t hide behind the walls of the convent.
Maria returns only to find her beloved engaged to the baroness Elsa, played by Tynelle Marshall, and tells the captain that she is only staying until he can find another governess.
The couple eventually marries and while on their honeymoon, the children enter into a music festival with the coaxing of friend Max, played by Tom Nelson.
Upon the couple’s return, the captain is summoned by the Nazi party to serve in its navy.
To avoid this, the family escape the Nazi officers and embark for the Switzerland on foot.
There is a total of 40 cast members, including:
Franz the butler, played by Joel Ring; Frau Schmidt, the housekeeper, played by Deb Moen; Rolf (Liesl’s boyfriend), played by James Frickstad, and Baron Elberfeld, played by Kevin Schut.
The nuns are played by Theresa Schmidt (Sister Berthe), Brittany Erickson (Sister Margaretta), Becky Hungerford (Sister Sophia), Alison Basney (Maria’s understudy), Elaine Ashburn, Elvira McCalla, Rose Foss, Penny Newsom, Gina Gahnz, Julia Torgersen, Dianne Gasch, Janet Moberg, Sue Moore, LuAnne Basney, Kristina Haataja, Jill Schut, Laurie Francois, Heidi Stutelberg, and Melissa Opsahl.
The Nazis are played by Neal Hungerford, Cody Harmening, Dan Konsor, Dillion Storm, and Michael Stutelberg.
Performance dates and tickets for “The Sound of Music”
There will be four opportunities to catch the Dassel-Cokato Community Theater Summer Musical production of “The Sound of Music” Thursday, July 21 at 7 p.m.; Friday, July 22, at 7 p.m.; Saturday, July 30 at 7 p.m.; and Sunday, July 31 at 2 p.m. at the Performing Arts Center.
Reserved seating tickets are on sale now for $15 for adults and $5 for youth (through high school senior).
To purchase, stop in the Community Education office or call (320) 286-4120.