The Sound of Music opens at PHS

By Helena Rodriguez, PNT Staff Writer

For Kyle Gainey, the hardest part in playing a lead character in this weekend’s production of “The Sound of Music” was having to shave his beard.

For this normally laid-back Portales High School senior who is the playing the role of Captain Georg von Trapp, a retired Austrian Naval Officer and widower, he said, “Another challenge is having to play the role of a stern parent to seven kids. That is definitely new to me.”

The Portales High School choral and drama departments opens the curtains tonight on the Rodgers and Hammerstein, Academy Award-winning production of “The Sound of Music.”

It’s a full-scale musical which has required a community effort and which has come with its own set of challenges for such a high-tech production, according to Bill Strong, the PHS drama teacher and artistic director for the show.

“This is one of the most difficult musicals we have done because of all of the different sets,” Strong said.
The two-act play has 13 different scenes in Act I alone and seven different scenes in Act II.

In spite of all of the technical requirements, though, Strong added, “It is also very cool, doing this musical, because with my technical design class, each group is in charge of a set.”

Strong said that these sets have served nicely as nine-weeks projects for his students.

Costuming was no small chore either. Strong said seven children in the show have to change seven times, and the leading character, Maria, changes 12 times.

As for Maria, played by PHS senior, Kerri Flen, she said, “The most challenging part, for me, has been learning the song ‘The Lonely Goat Herder.’ It goes really fast and a lot of the words are similar.”

PHS will present three performances of the show beginning tonight, with shows also slated for Saturday and Sunday. During the Saturday night performance, refreshments will also be served in celebration of the grand reopening of the stage. More than half a million dollars in renovations have been done to the Performing Arts Center at PHS.

“These renovations have been an ongoing process for about five years. We replaced the sound equipment. We have brand new lighting. We have new auditorium seats. New curtain and carpet,” said Franklin Smith, the PHS chorale director. “We wanted to make sure that we were handicap accessible and that we made enough room for the sound board and lighting equipment.”

Smith said that the lighting board is now located in the back of the auditorium and noted that all of the technical aspects for the show are being done by students. “Our students really have the opportunity now to work with state-of-the-art equipment which includes audio and visual equipment. We just kind of mentor the students and let them run loose with that (technical) portion of the show.”

Of course, students, as well as a host of volunteer community members, from children to adult, are also involved in the production. Leading roles are being played by Flen as Maria, Gainey as Captain, Kew Mason as Mother Abbess, Sunny Liu as Max Detweiler and Keisha Christensen as Elsa Shrader.