Palace Theatre comes alive with the ‘Sound of Music’
There will never be too many versions of “The Sound of Music,” the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical spectacular with a score packed with lovely music and a cast filled with just-as-lovely kids.
Following the original 1959 Broadway show and the 1965 film adaptation starring Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer, the latest 2019 National Touring Production offers a new look at an old favorite.
“The Sound of Music,” produced by NETworks Presentations and presented by Westmoreland Cultural Trust, stops in Greensburg on May 5 at The Palace Theatre as part of a North American tour.
Putting her own spin on the iconic role of Maria, who brought music and love to the Von Trapp home, is Jill-Christine Wiley, a native of Lancaster County, in her second year with the show.
“I definitely did not want to try and be another Julie Andrews, or Mary Martin, who originated the role on Broadway,” she says. “I didn’t want to replicate something that was done so beautifully. Our creative team helped me mold my own interpretation of the role.”
Enhanced musical score
Wilsey says the touring production features songs from the Tony, Grammy and Academy Award-winning Best Score – such as audience favorites “Edelweiss,” “My Favorite Things” and “Climb Every Mountain” — in addition to a few songs from the original Broadway show.
Playing the proud Capt. Georg Von Trapp is Mike McLean, who has performed in national tours of “Guys and Dolls” and “Saturday Night Fever,” and off-Broadway in “Ziegfeld’s Midnight Frolic” and “90210 The Musical.”
Before joining the current “Sound of Music” tour, Riley played Belle in a national tour of Disney’s “Beauty and The Beast” and starred in regional productions of Disney’s “The Little Mermaid” as Ariel, Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “Carousel,” “The Fantasticks.” “Little Women, The Musical” and others.
Long before her current role with “The Sound of Music,” she was working as a child actor in regional theaters in and around Lancaster, where “by age 8, I had my mind made up that I wanted a career in the theater.”
Inspiration as a child
When she was playing Marta, one of the Von Trapp children, in a community theater production of “The Sound of Music,” she remembers writing Andrews a letter in which she invited her to attend her show. The famous actress didn’t take her up on the offer, but she did send her back a signed autographed photo with her regrets.
Riley credits her father, Keith Riley, a professor of music at Millersville University, for instilling a love of music and dance in her at a young age. She grew up going to jazz and big band concerts and making up dance routines in the aisles of the theaters.
Living in New York when she’s not on tour, she says she spends time collaborating on a solo cabaret show she is creating, attending master classes and voice lessons and looking for her next big audition. Her current tour with “The Sound of Music” winds down in June.
Candy Williams is a Tribune-Review contributing writer.