The Sound Of Music
(Saddleback Civic Light Opera, Mission Viejo, CA)

Starring Erika Amato as"Maria"
Steven Connor as"Captain Von Trapp"

Music by Rodgers & Hammerstein
Directed and Choreographed by Sheryl Donchey
Musical Direction by Diane King Vann


The Program
(Click to enlarge)




Sound of Music

Friday, August 9, 2002

'Music' Has Seldom Sounded So Sweet
Special to the Register.

Maria Rainer, the lead role of Rodgers & Hammerstein's "Sound of Music," has been played by everyone from Mary Martin to Debby Boone - and, in the famed 1965 film version, Julie Andrews - so the casting of this role is crucial to the success of any revival of the 1959 musical.

That's why praise is due for Sheryl Donchey, director of Saddleback Civic Light Opera's new staging at the McKinney Theatre in Mission Viejo, and for Beth Hansen, the troupe's casting director. Their selection of Erika Amato as Maria is a masterstroke.

Amato's combination of textured vocal work and layered acting make this "Sound of Music" a pleasing experience. Alongside the actress, Donchey has cast fellow Equity actor Steven Connor as the imperious Captain Georg von Trapp. His portrayal may not be equal to that of Amato, but it doesn't have to be to succeed.

Throw in distinctive work from the seven youngsters...a solid supporting cast and Diane King Vann's sure-handed musical direction, and you've got a "Sound of Music" for the memory books - definitely one of the best SCLO productions in quite a few years.

...Maria's philosophy is to throw herself into life headlong, show affection for all in your path, and trust in fate. Amato takes this same tack in portraying Maria, displaying the character's traits both overtly and subtly. Her Maria isn't afraid to defy the captain's icy grip on order. With admirable vocal control, she's commanding in signature numbers such as "The Lonely Goatheard" and "Do Re Mi," only two songs in which Amato's style presents a welcome hint of Andrews' more familiar inflections.

Amato's soaring yet low soprano carries Maria's several numbers with the children...


Sunday, December 29, 2002

Quality Rises with Local Curtains
Special to the Register.

For Orange County theater this year, it was a case of getting older and getting better. Time was when strong outings by north county troupes Stages, Vanguard and Fullerton Civic Light and occasional good work by various small troupes were all you could expect. Now, a cadre of independent storefront theater troupes leads the charge with a muscular command of theater. They're well-schooled in the art form's demands and aren't afraid to take chances.


1. " 'Master Harold'... and the boys" (International City Theatre): Athol Fugard's concise, incisive script, with its tough, unflinching look at the true ugliness of racism, got a penetrating take by caryn morse desai and her standout cast.

2. "Taking Sides" (Rude Guerrilla): Ronald Harwood's trenchant examination at how a famed German conductor is raked over the coals in the aftermath of World War II got forceful direction by Sharyn Case and strong acting overall.

3. "Dealer's Choice" (Stages): Director Steven John gave Marber's script the right punch and urgency, and his cast ran with it, creating a funny, profane and yet genuinely profound evening.

4. "Triumph of Love" (International City Theatre): The addition of songs to Marivaux's light, clever look at what makes the heart stir turned a well-crafted comedy into a sweet-tempered fairy tale.

5. "Art" (Rude Guerrilla): Yazmina Reza's text, an intellectual exercise disguised as a superb character study, was beautifully realized in Renee Gallo's canny, well-acted staging.

6. "She Stoops to Conquer" (Long Beach Playhouse): This staging deftly depicted Goldsmith's skilled, witty writing, balancing farcical roughhousing with sophistication.

7. "Three Days of Rain" (The Chance): Director Oanh Nguyen magnified the nuances of this tragic psychological study, with subtle, versatile performances from his three leads.

8. "Sleeping Around" (Rude Guerrilla): Director Dave Barton guided this rewarding script and a near-flawless cast with consummate skill, riding the text's every ebb and flow.

9. "All's Well That Ends Well" (Grove Theater Co.): Jane Macfie's streamlined staging of the Bard's comedy was quaint and fanciful.

10. "The Sound of Music" (Saddleback Civic Light Opera): Sheryl Donchey and Diane King Vann's staging had a first-rate Maria (played by Erika Amato) and solid thespian and vocal work all around.


Erika Amato ("Nine"); Michael Carr, Nicole Ann Mohr ("Smash"); Richard Comeau ("Jake's Women," "Trail of Tears"); Mark Coyan, Kimberly Fisher ("Cockfighters," "Hamlet"); Abbie de Vera ("All's Well That Ends Well"); Eric Eisenbrey ("David's Mother"); Ramlah Frediani, Erika Ceporius ("As You Like It"); T. Eric Hart ("The Scarlet Pimpernel"); Joseph Horn ("Three Days of Rain," "As You Like It"); Donald Kindle ("Last Night of Ballyhoo"); Jill Cary Martin, Tom Turnley ("Molly Sweeney"); Jack Messenger ("The Young Man from Atlanta"); Eddie Nickerson ("Dealer's Choice").


Dave Barton ("Cleansed"); John Beane ("Hamlet," "Henry V"); Sharyn Case ("Taking Sides"); Greg Cohen ("Biloxi Blues"); caryn morse desai ("Master Harold ..."); Sheryl Donchey ("The Sound of Music"); Phyllis Gitlin ("Last Night of Ballyhoo," "Broadway Bound"); Steven John ("Dealer's Choice"); Oanh Nguyen ("Three Days of Rain").