Tuesday, August 14, 2012

FRINGE: The Hills Are Alive!

From the premiere at the Westchester Square Arts Festival in May
Photo credit: Lorah Haskins
I don't know how it's August--it feels like it was just the 2011 Fringe Festival, but here we are again. First up on my Fringe agenda: The Hills Are Alive!

I love The Sound of Music (I mean, obviously). I don't know how many times I've watched it in my life, but it's probably a ridiculously high number. And I'm guessing that the creators of The Hills Are Alive!, Frankie Johnson (lyricist and bookwriter) and Eric Thomas Johnson (composer and music director) have seen the film just as many times, which is why they're able to parody it so well.

If you recall, The Sound of Music ends with the Von Trapp family in the Alps, having just escaped the Nazis. The Hills Are Alive! picks up from there, with the "Von Klapp" family making their way through the Alps, trying to get to Switzerland.

The characters all have similar personalities and functions to their film counterparts. There's the cute one little Gerty (Frankie Johnson, doing quadruple duty since she also directs), sweet Magda (Daniele Hager, the vocal standout) who everyone forgets about, precocious Bettina (Katie Bland) who is always paired with Ludwiga (Skylar Saltz) although they're nothing alike, effeminate Knut (Becky Whitcomb), and the two oldest, the bickering Felix (Christopher Tiernan) and Lotte (Maggie Wetzel). The cast do an admirable job of channeling the film actors, especially Ashley Ball as Fraulein Mathilde, who accurately mimics Julie Andrews's enunciation when teaching the children how to sing.

The show is a little longer than it needs to be. Act two starts to become repetitive, but it picks up during the authentic dream ballet. The songs were written to serve similar functions as those in the movie. For example, "Goodbye Austria" is in the vein of "So Long, Farewell," complete with similar choreography and Kurt/Knut's high note on "goodbye." Though it's a spoof, it's so lovingly done, that any Sound of Music devotee is sure to enjoy.

Remaining performances: Sunday, August 19 at 1 p.m. and Friday, August 24 at 9 p.m.

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