News Column

Cape theater: 'Sound of Music' brings families together

November 14, 2013


Nov. 14--Rob Thorne jokes that when son Chris, 11, becomes a teen, he might not want to hang out with his father anymore, so, right now, Thorne is taking whatever chances he can get with his "buddy" -- including at Barnstable Comedy Club.

Father and son are among a few families working together on the musical "The Sound of Music," the first club production involving children in at least two decades. As a result, generations are coming together to tell the based-on-real-life story of a young singing nun who changes an Austrian family's life before World War II.

Chris plays Von Trapp son Friedrich, and the young trumpet player is singing on stage for the first time. The tween has sung around the house for years, according to his father. "So I said, 'Do you want to check it out?' and he ended up loving every minute of it," Thorne says of Chris, who also plays hockey.

Thorne plays Herr Zeller, a villainous Nazi, who doesn't sing but Thorne shares a few scenes with his son. Thorne, 48, hadn't acted since he was a child until he got a part in "Happy Now" last year at the club, then the "Deadwood Dick" melodrama. Chris held cue cards for that show in May, and won a lot of audience goodwill -- as well as the acting bug.

"The reason I like to do shows over there is that the people are just fantastic. Everybody puts their heart and soul into it," Thorne says. "Sound of Music" has been an especially good experience because of director Marcia Wyrtwal, he adds. "Marcia is such a positive influence, and is in that frame of mind all the time."

Wytrwal says this production has been eye-opening for club regulars, including taking safety and young people's schedules into account.

"It's been such a joy," she says. "We're looking at the place in a different way. It was a real paradigm shift."

Club information shows other families in the show include the Swindlers, with Martha as Frau Schmidt, James as Franz and daughter Eleanor as Louisa; the McDonoughs, with Catherine playing Maria, brother Patrick playing acoustic guitar, father Jim photographing the show and mother Christine sewing costumes; mother/daughter Sonia and Addy Schonning playing Sister Sophia and a postulant nun; mother/daughter Christine and Mackenzie Sullivan playing Sister Margaretta and Gretl von Trapp; and brother/sister Christopher and Lizzy Smythe both in the ensemble.

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Theater arts and music students, and a cast and crew of more than 30 are working together as Monomoy High School Theater Company to present a Readers Theater production of "Most Dangerous Women," by Jan Maher and Nikki Nomija Louis, at 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday at Harwich High School auditorium. Admission is $10 for adults, $5 for students, with canned goods collected for donation to the Harwich Family Pantry.

The show is described as combining music, passionate statements, speeches and poetry to chronicle a century of women in the peace movement. It traces the history of the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom, and women who have received the Nobel Peace Prize through historical documents, newspaper headlines, meeting minutes and other documents.

Choral students will perform music written for the show or related to the women or events highlighted. Students also have created multimedia projections to add to the history, student art work on peace and freedom will be displayed and human rights groups will offer information in the lobby.

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Cape Cod has an abundance of family and children's theater -- both to participate in and watch -- and "Getting Kids in the Act" is the topic for a forum Monday sponsored by The Friends of the Cape & Islands Theater Coalition. The talk, performance and reception, part of the Friends' "StageStruck: Behind the Scenes of Our Region's Theaters" series, will take place 5 to 7 p.m. at Cape Cod Museum of Natural History, 869 Route 6A in Brewster.

On the panel: Maura Hanlon, from Cape Rep Theatre in Brewster; Tamara Harper and Nina Schuessler from Harwich Junior Theatre; Holly Erin McCarthy from Cotuit Center for the Arts and Theater Under the Stairs; and Terry Norgeot, from the Academy of Performing Arts in Orleans. They will try to help parents navigate the many local family-theater choices, including classes, auditions, performances, and behind-the-scenes activities. The Friends group urges parents and children ages 9 to 18 to attend.

There will be brief performances and refreshments. Admission is $5, but free to Friends and museum members, as well as youths under age 18. More information: or

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Actress Melissa Nussbaum Freeman has created a one-woman show that takes a different look at actress Marilyn Monroe and weaves Freeman's own life history into the story. The result is "Marilyn Monroe, Communist," which Freeman will perform with the sponsorship of Eventide Arts at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday at the Gertrude Lawrence Stage at Dennis Union Church, Route 6A.

Freeman first performed the show in Mexico in 2009, then in Provincetown in 2010 and 2011, according to information from Eventide. The show intertwines the public vs. private personas of Monroe against Freeman's own childhood in Brooklyn, putting on a different face for the world while her Communist parents hosted discussions by political dissidents and sheltered American leftists trying to flee the country.

For more theater news and commentary, check out Kathi Scrizzi Driscoll's blog at and follow KathiSDCCT on Twitter.


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