Apparently, seeing a live production of “The Sound of Music” is among Candlelight Theatre fans’ list of favorite things.
The current production at the Arden theater, which ends Aug. 26, had the largest opening weekends of any show at Candlelight since the COVID-19 pandemic started.
“The Sound of Music,” which tells the story of the Von Trapp family and their escape from Nazi Austria, features faces familiar to the dinner theater’s audiences, with the added bump of two sets of children who swap out the roles of the seven Von Trapp children.
The 1959 Broadway show led to the filming of the Oscar-winning movie, includes classic tunes such as the eponymous title song as well as “Climb Ev’ry Mountain,” “The Hills Are Alive,” “So Long, Farewell,” “Edelweiss,” and, of course, “My Favorite Things.”
In addition to a new musical, the Candlelight has introduced a new menu to reflect the show’s German and Austrian traditions.
Paul McElwee will play Captain Von Trapp to Sophie Jones’ Maria. It’s the third time they’ve been paired in a Candlelight performance. He’s played King Arthur to her Guinevere in “Camelot” and they played the parents of con artist Frank Abagnale in “Catch Me If You Can.”
“It’s really nice to have the opportunity to play this role opposite someone I have a kind of a theater history with,” McElwee said. “We have good chemistry and we have a great time together. Maria is really the star of the show, and Sophie is just wonderful.”
McElwee said his favorite moment in in the show is when the children are called on stage
“If you remember from the movie, the Captain is very strict at the beginning, and he sounds a whistle to get all of his kids to come when he wants them,” McElwee said. “So the first time I blow that whistle and the kids just come running onto stage, it’s a fun moment and the audience gets a kick out it, too.”
Candlelight’s Red Blue crews
The two crews of children will each perform 14 times.
The Red crew includes Landyn Pollard as Friedrich, Brooke Bishop as Louisa, Owen Ahlmer as Kurt, Ivy Jackson as Brigitta, Sophie Hirwe as Marta and Natalie Cross as Gretl.
The Blue crew includes Dominic Traini as Friedrich, Kylie Barden as Louisa, Gavin DeGeorge as Kurt, Natalie Paynter as Brigitta, Amanda Cusick as Marta and Charlotte Spak as Gretl.
McElwee, who worked as director of education for a children’s museum for a dozen years, really enjoys working with younger actors.
“I’m an educator at heart,” he said.
His day job now is working for a public health nonprofit developing theater-based outreach programs, first with sexual health programs and now for a nutrition theme.
In many ways, McElwee says, he really likes the process of putting together a show more than he actually likes the long string of performances.
“I really love building a show, building a character, building relationships,” McElwee said.
He doesn’t work as a waiter for dinner because his day job schedule won’t accommodate it, but Sophie does.
The show’s menu includes:
- Shrimp Cocktail with cocktail sauce
- German Potato Salad (tossed in a vinegar-based dressing made with bacon drippings and dijon mustard often served warm or room temperature. We will be serving it at room temperature )
- Königsberger klopse (simply stated Meatballs in a white wine sauce flavored with lemon and capers)
- Käsespätzle – German Mac & Cheese (spätzle noodles – a German egg noodle with gruyère cheese)
- Broccoli w/German Red Cabbage (the red cabbage benefits from the flavors of red wine, apple juice, a hint of sugar and cloves so will have a sweet / sour taste)
- Baked Salmon w/Thai Chili Sauce and Mango/Pineapple Salsa.”
McElwee said he was told the number of submissions for people interested in performing in the Candlelight production were record-breaking.
One of the aspects of performing “The Sound of Music,” McElwee said, is the opportunity it affords to juxtapose the Nazi history in the play to politics around the world today.
“So it is a story that obviously was a very specific time in history,” he said, ” but unfortunately a story that we are still very much dealing with.”
Details: The Candlelight Theatre is at 2208 Millers Road in Arden. (302) 475-2313. Tickets are about $70 for adults for dinner and the show and $33 for children. Get ’em here. Many nights are sold out online, but a few may be available, so check with the box office if a night you’re interested says it’s sold out.
Betsy Price is a Wilmington freelance writer who has 40 years of experience, including 15 at The News Journal in Delaware.
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