Gooseberry Park’s ‘The Sound of Music’ to include unique color scheme
“The hills are alive, with the sound of music…”
That opening line, from the signature song of one of the world’s most iconic and beloved musicals, will once again be heard in a live theater setting this summer, as Moorhead’s Gooseberry Park Players take on “The Sound of Music” for a weeklong run at Concordia College’s Frances Frazier Comstock Theatre.
The summer musical, which runs July 15-20, will be helmed by Callaway native — and Detroit Lakes High School alumni — Debbie Richards Griffith, who became Gooseberry Park’s artistic director last year. And she will be aided by another Detroit Lakes High School alum, Christopher Damlo, who is returning for a second year as the program’s assistant director.
Griffith, who lives in International Falls when she’s not directing Gooseberry Park’s seven-week summer theater program, said that this would be her third try at tackling the classic Rogers & Hammerstein musical, after starring as Louisa in a DLHS production, and again as Liesl in another Minneapolis production at age 24. This time, she wanted to try something a little different from the standard adaptation. “I’ve never heard of another show doing this in quite the same way,” she said.
For this production, the first scene is presented entirely in shades of black, white and gray. In each successive scene, a new color is added, until at the end of the show, the full color spectrum is shown.
“It’s a big task for our technical director and costume designer,” Griffith said. “It’s a really unique idea, I think.”
The stage’s gradual transformation from black and white and shades of gray to a full color spectrum is a metaphor for finding light and hope amidst the darkness of impending war and Hitler’s evil Nazi regime, she revealed.
“My point was to communicate that despite the ugliness of life’s circumstances, we can always have hope,” Griffith said. “When we can see any sort of color past the darkness, it brings hope and light.”
Griffith describes the story of the von Trapp family in this way: “Life is worth living and a dream is worth pursuing — yet sometimes darkness creeps into our world. It takes courage to step forward when it might be easier to follow the words of a Max Detweiler (one of the musical’s central figures), who says, ‘What’s going to happen is going to happen. Just make sure it doesn’t happen to you.’”
But when Captain von Trapp decides to defy his superiors in the German navy and flee with his family to Austria, despite the dangers of doing so, he is showing true courage, Griffith added.
“Edmund Burke is famous for saying, ‘All that is necessary for evil to abound is for good men to do nothing,’” she said. “Captain Von Trapp was a good man who refused to just go along. This production is his family’s story and the way music and the beauty of hope led them forward.”
Griffith gratefully acknowledged her debit to the young cast, ages 11-18, and crew who are making her vision come to life.
“I just find such a depth and maturity in this group,” she said. “There’s not a lot of big group numbers, but really feel this cast has come together, supporting each other and understanding they’re a part of a beautiful piece of art… even if they’re only on stage for one scene.”
Opening night for “The Sound of Music” is Tuesday, July 15 at 7 p.m., with additional 7 p.m. shows set daily from July 16-19. The run concludes with a 1 p.m. Sunday matinee on July 20.
Tickets are available by phone at 218-299-3314, or online at www.gooseberryparkplayers.org.
Follow Detroit Lakes Newspapers reporter Vicki Gerdes on Twitter at @VickiLGerdes.