Arts and Entertainment

SJC Theatre scales new heights in 'Sound of Music' | Review

Having seen most every major theatre performance on San Juan Island since the 70s, I expected Merritt Olsen would have a real doozey for his final production this month.

It is more like a blockbuster.

It is the best thing I've seen on the island since the first lady of American theatre, Helen Hayes, challenged the community in 1985: "With talents like these on this island, the least you can do is put a roof over their heads."

She was speaking from the stage of the old Royal film theatre, which closed down its films during those periods when live theatre performed.

Thanks to the fact that Paul and Lu Whittier donated the land and matched fundraising to the tune of $500,000, the San Juan Community Theatre and Arts Center opened in June 30, 1989. The community has since backed every type of talent that took the stage.

It has been wonderful, but we wondered how it was going to go without the direction of Merritt Olsen, who has been at the helm for 12 years. Not to worry.

Everyone wanted to attend, enjoy and participate in what Merritt calls his "Last Hurrah."

First off, the musical score of “Sound Of Music” has never been better than that performed in the orchestra pit opening night, under the leadership of musical director Jim Collado. Kudos to Bridget Wegemer, Dennis Willows, Sue Collado, George Johnson, Matt Frost, Janet Olsen, Jim Vedder, Jonathan Piff, Rob Simpson, Grace Willows, Tom Grauman, Ken Baker, Patty Francisco and Pam Stewart.

Just as they are hidden, so also are those who worked on the sets: 11 scenes in Act I and another five in Act II.

That makes a total of at least 45 friends and neighbors on stage and and equal number of behind-the-scenes participants who make this great show happen.

I don't have room to describe all of the masterful theatrical touches Olsen used in staging this musical, let alone mention each dresser, artist, lighting control involved. You'll just have to go see for yourself and check it out in the program.

You won't regret it as the years go by, remembering this great showing during the rest of this month.

I do have room to mention that George Iliff, as Captain Von Trapp, and Jill Urbach, as Mariah, could have filled in for Julie Andrews, and the other Van Trapps who were on Broadway, and no one would have known the difference. They are superb.

As for the kids in the Von Trapp family: Julie Hagn, Matthew Stepita, Courtney Bell, Ryan Crawford, Joely Loucks, Else Aret and Lucy Marinkovich, the way they sang and were choreographed was as good as any ‘Sound’ show I have seen, either on stage or on screen.

Merritt Magic indeed.

Don't let this one get away, guys and gals. It's worth every nickel.

— Go with the F.L.O.W.  (Ferry Lovers Of Washington)

 

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