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'The Sound of Music' comes to ELCA

Photo by Jason A. Smith
Taylor Sims (left) and Zach Morgan rehearse scenes from "The Sound of Music" at Eagle's Landing Christian Academy. The play will open Thursday, at 7 p.m.

Photo by Jason A. Smith Taylor Sims (left) and Zach Morgan rehearse scenes from "The Sound of Music" at Eagle's Landing Christian Academy. The play will open Thursday, at 7 p.m.

e alive in McDonough this week, as a group of students bring a well-known musical to the stage.

Eagle's Landing Christian Academy (ELCA), at 2400 Ga. Highway 42 North, will present "The Sound of Music," Thursday and Friday, at 7 p.m., and Saturday, at noon.

Chuck Ekstedt, a high-school drama teacher at ELCA, will direct the play, which is set in pre-World War II Austria. The production follows a tale of redemption for one of the show's main characters, Captain Georg von Trapp. "He's going through this phase where the Nazis are forcing him to come over to the Nazi Party," said Ekstedt. "He's lost his wife, so he's a widower with seven kids.

"He's very authoritative and dictatorial in the way he runs his home, because of his military background," the director added. "It's causing some tension between him and his children. He's dealing with the loss of his wife, and this invasion the Nazis, so it's a very dysfunctional, painful atmosphere."

Capt. von Trapp's life, said Ekstedt, is changed when he meets Maria Rainer, an aspiring nun who is sent to the family's home as a governess to the von Trapp children. "Maria is infectious with her music, and teaches the kids to sing, dance, and smile again," Ekstedt said. "She really brings redemption into this household."

Auditions for the production began Jan. 15. "The kids have really stepped up, and they're really enjoying it," said Ekstedt. "We've got over 70 kids on the stage, performing in the show. We're doing the full Broadway version. It's not ‘Sound of Music' junior. We're going to have lighting effects all over the walls, and the set is going to be a 35-foot-tall mansion, with a double, winding staircase. It's going to be a very impressive set, for a high-school production."

"The Sound of Music" marks the second annual spring musical for ELCA, following 2010's production of "The Wizard of Oz."

Taylor Sims, of McDonough, will take on the role of Maria, popularized Julie Andrews in the 1965 film version. Sims is a 17-year-old junior at ELCA. "When I heard that we were doing ‘The Sound of Music,' my first thought went to Maria, because I've always loved Julie Andrews, and loved the part ever since I was a little girl," Sims said. "So, it's kind of a dream of mine to play her."

Sims has performed in the past with the Henry Players, a local theater group. "The Sound of Music has so many wonderful musical numbers, and dance numbers," she said. "It's really great, getting to integrate music and dance more onto ELCA's drama stage. I don't think a lot of people at ELCA have gotten to see that here."

Zach Morgan, 18, of McDonough, and an ELCA senior, will portray Capt. von Trapp. He appeared, last semester, in a one-act production of "Canned Hamlet," but did not expect to get a leading role this time.

"I came out and started acting a little bit," he said, "and I was like, OK, I think I could do this. I'm going to give it a shot."

He said he hopes audiences will be touched the play's message. "Capt. von Trapp lost his wife, strayed a little bit, and started looking for happiness in other places," Morgan said. "Maria comes along, and brings God along with her. It just seems like it's a good family-type thing to come out and see, that a home without God is dysfunctional. Without happiness ... it's just not going to work."

Britney Abrahams, 18, of Jonesboro, will appear as Mother Abbess, a nun who advises Maria. Abrahams, also a senior, has performed in productions of "The Wizard of Oz," "Beauty and the Beast," and "Sleeping Beauty."

The young veteran actress is looking forward to taking the stage.

"I've been doing theater my entire life," said Abrahams. "The whole musical is based on the power of music, and how it unites people."

Director Ekstedt said efforts have been made to involve the audience as much as possible. As an example, he pointed to a scene depicting the von Trapp family at a concert hall, attempting to slip away from the Nazis.

"When that scene takes place, the audience is the ‘audience' for the concert hall," he said. "So, they actually sing along with the cast. It's a lot of fun for the audience. It's a good, fun, clean, wholesome, exciting show anybody can go to."

Tickets are $5, and can be purchased at the door. Proceeds will go to the Fine Arts Patrons, a non-profit organization that supports the arts at ELCA.