‘The Best Angels of Our Nature at Play’




I was milling about the lobby during intermission at the LBHS Park Avenue Players’ presentation of “The Sound of Music” on Saturday trying to come to terms with what just happened.


An older gentleman came up to me with a sense of urgency in his eyes. Apparently the same thing had happened to him and he couldn’t contain himself. He says with a combination of wonder and surprise, “Can you believe this is a high school production!?” I confirmed I too was in disbelief. We exchanged grins anticipating act two and moved on.


Not only had their been a suspension of disbelief when the lights went down on the opening, and in the lobby, but the disbelief continues. The weekend has passed and I’m still trying to sort through what happened.


First, cue the well-deserved hyperbole. The direction, by Mark Dressler and Tracy Bonner, along with the musical direction by Roxanna Ward, give the student cast and musicians a no-compromise professional staging, lighting, sets, costumes, upon which to take their performances to the stars. And to the stars they go. The vocals are as delightful and powerful as one would expect on Broadway. Yes, really. Chandler Davis singing the lead Maria role channels Julie Andrews. Large shoes to fill and she fills them. She weaves a charm and soul into this production that grabs you by the heartstrings. Jackson Tupy as Captain von Trapp has a voice clearly beyond his years. The young man has chops. And, Haley Castuera sings the Mother Abbess role with unrestrained bravado. All of which is carried pristinely to ones ears via the Artists’ Theatre’s new mic system. Kudos to the whole cast and crew.


So what happened? I asked Mark Dressler. He said that this production could not have been done till now, that the voices to carry the a cappella singing just came together with this amazing cast. But I think it is more. I think what happened is 25 years of hard work to build a performing arts program is bearing a sweet fruit. I think this show is a metaphor for all that is good in our community. It is a testimony to what can happen when teachers “believe in teenagers’ abilities” and a community that believes in its teachers steps up with the resources to make the performing arts matter. If the cliche is true, that you can judge a community by how it treats its children, this production is an opportunity for all to witness the best angels of our nature in play. I think that’s why I can’t get this out of my head. The optimism that comes off this stage is palpable. Good medicine for these times.


Don’t miss the opportunity to hear Chandler Davis and her cast mates make the hills come alive. The show runs through next weekend.


Gasper Patrico, Aliso Viejo

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