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Orem's SCERA bringing its hill alive with 'The Sound of Music'

Chelsea Hendrickson is Maria in "The Sound of Music" at the SCERA Shell Outdoor Theatre.
Chelsea Hendrickson is Maria in "The Sound of Music" at the SCERA Shell Outdoor Theatre.
Pete Hansen

OREM — Jeremy Showgren wants his audience coming to "The Sound of Music" to understand that the musical story is actually about some serious history.

While the music is gorgeous and there's certainly some fun and humor written into the story, it’s actually a drama based on a dark time in Europe. Hitler is marching and World War II is about to begin.

Showgren, as the director of this piece, said it's important to him that people understand the von Trapp family made major sacrifices and faced real dangers as they fled their home country.

“So many people come expecting the lighter touch that was evident in the movie,” he said. “But while this has the wonderful Rodgers and Hammerstein music, it is a serious story where the music is used to buoy the von Trapp family when it needs to be uplifted and have courage.”

The story is told on a set designed by Nat Reed that features the beauty of the Austrian landscape but changes as the plot thickens and it becomes evident that war is inevitable.

“This is not your typical musical,” Showgren said. “We are doing it with the overarching idea of change. There is the annexation of Austria and how all Austrians are adapting to the takeover. There is a man who is adapting to the change of not having his wife and wondering how to love his children. We have a woman changing because she is reconsidering the life she wants to lead. We have the captain’s oldest daughter Liesl, who thinks she is an adult, but realizes she has a lot of growing up to do.”

Leads in the show include Chelsea Hendrickson as Maria, Mark Buffington as the Baron von Trapp, Jessica Sundwall as Liesl, Michelle Sundwall as the Mother Abbess, Rebekah Osmond as Elsa Schraeder; Phil Varney as Max Detweiler; and Corey Morris as Rolf.

There are two casts of von Trapp children.

After 250 people showed up to audition, Showgren decided to double cast the children.

Louisa will be played by Chloe Rodgerson and Sasha Osmond; Friedrich is played by Austin Bigelow and Noah Jones; Brigitta is played by Grace Grimmer and Isabella Hixson; Kurt is played by Seth Kelson and Thomas Perky; Marta is played by McCall Brainard and Bonnie Weiss; and Gretl is played by Olivia Sundwall and Sophie Osmond.

Showgren is also the music director, assisted by choreographer Nichole Ortega, Chair of the Department of Dance at Utah Valley University.

If you go …

What: "The Sound of Music"

Where: The SCERA Shell Outdoor Theater, 699 S. State St., Orem

When: 8 p.m., Monday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, July 5-20

Tickets: $10 adults, $8 children, call 801-225-ARTS or purchase at the gate


Sharon Haddock is a professional writer with more than 35 years experience, 17 at the Deseret News. Her personal blog is at