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Opening Thursday, May 15, the play features a cast of 29 East County actors

by: CONTRIBUTED PHOTO - East County actors are bringing to stage the classic Rodgers and Hammerstein musical 'The Sound of Music.'

The East County hills are alive with “The Sound of Music,” as Black Swan Youth Theatre presents the beloved Rodgers and Hammerstein classic, opening Thursday, May 15.

“One of the play’s messages is the power of music,” said Erik Scott, a Barlow High School senior who plays Uncle Max Detweiler. “It doesn’t just mend a family, it binds a nation together.”

Directed by Susan Scott, “The Sound of Music” features a cast of 29 actors, ranging in age from 8-19 and hailing from four school districts.

The high-spirited Maria (played by Erica Brady, a Brigham Young University Hawaii student) is dispatched from her Austrian convent to serve as governess for the seven children of a widowed naval captain.

While she doesn’t fit into the religious life, Maria captures the heart of the stern captain and his children, prompting Baron von Trapp’s marriage proposal.

With noticeable script differences from the 1965 movie starring Julie Andrews, the message from both versions is relevant today, cast members said.

They appreciated learning more historical context surrounding the Holocaust and how it relates to modern conflicts such as the one in Ukraine.

“As the play goes on, the younger cast members learn more and more, just like the von Trapp children did,” said Ellie Leach, a junior at Barlow High School who plays Baroness Elsa Schraeder.

“There’s a reason why the story of the von Trapps has come through the ages. My mother grew up with it and my sister loves it. The message of the family is just a positive — how they all stuck together. The love Maria brings into the family is something everyone enjoys watching.”

by: CONTRIBUTED PHOTO - The play features a cast of 29, including the von Trapp family. From left to right are Shayden Nagle, Emily Brady, Lucas Buchanan, Sydney Holwege, Reagan Luker, Erica Brady, Josie Lattin, Malia Mataele and Carson Cardwell.

After Maria and the captain’s honeymoon, they discover Austria has been invaded by the Nazis. The family narrowly escapes over the mountains to Switzerland on the eve of World War II.

“‘Edelweiss’ is a slight stand up to the Nazis through music as the whole concert hall sings it together,” Erik Scott said of the poignant song. “The play shows the power music has on emotions, courage and all sorts of things.”

Lucas Buchanan, a senior at Barlow High School who plays the captain, said he gained a new appreciation for musicals from this production. “It’s not just a silly, for fun musical — it has a great message behind it,” he said.

Susan Scott said this is the first time she has directed “The Sound of Music” in 13 years. She called it one of her favorite musicals of all time, with many opportunities for a cast of various ages.

“It’s fun to work with a group of kids that is willing to do everything I dish out and more,” Scott said. “They’re like the Energizer Bunnies.”

One of the younger cast members, Reagan Luker, a second-grader at Gresham Arthur Academy who plays Gretl, said she wants audiences members to leave the play with “amazement.”

If you go

What: Black Swan Youth Theatre presents ‘The Sound of Music’. Susan Scott directs a cast of 29 actors, ranging in age from 8-19, and hailing from four school districts. Erica Brady stars as Maria Von Trapp.

When: 7 p.m. May 15-17 Thursday, Friday and Saturday; also 1:30 p.m. matinee Saturday.

Where: Mt. Hood Community College's theater, 26000 S.E. Stark St., Gresham.

Tickets: $8 for students and seniors and $9 for adults.

Info: 503-501-6079 or visit http://blackswanyouththeatre.wordpress.com/tickets/.

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