Next week, Sanford School will do something it hasn't in more than a decade.
The school will break its trend of hosting contemporary musicals to present a traditional and iconic one in "The Sound of Music, " directed by Tammy Paulino and produced by Clint Williams, who doubles as musical director. Opening day is Feb. 7 and show dates run through Feb. 10.
"We've been really needing and wanting to get back to a traditional musical theater show for a while, and now was a good moment to do it," said Paulino, of Bear. "I'm excited for these guys to get back to the roots of traditional musical theater."
The precise year escapes her, but Paulino says the Sanford Repertory Theatre Company (SRTC), the school's theater program, most likely held its last traditional production in the early 2000s when it delivered "Funny Girl."
"It's been a minute," she added. "We've been doing a lot of modern, contemporary productions, which definitely has a great place [in theater]. But it's nice to go back and do something old school."
Lead actress Olivia Blythe, a senior, has never performed in a traditional musical at Sanford in the nine years she's been involved with SRTC, in which she's been the combination of a stagehand and actress in nine school shows. Her premier in "The Sound of Music" will mark her first time as a lead. It'll also represent her 10th SRTC show, a milestone that no one else in the robust cast of 40 has achieved.
"This is a big step for me and it's really exciting!" smiled Blythe, 17, of Newark. "Sometimes it doesn't even hit me [that I'm a lead]. But it's all I ever wanted."
Set in the 1930s in Austria, a kind woman named Maria (Blythe) isn't having much luck in her attempts to become nun. When Navy Capt. Georg Von Trapp (Chris Malafronti) writes to the convent requesting a governess brave enough to handle his seven ornery kids, Maria is assigned the job. Trapp really needs the help since his wife passed away and he's often out sailing the seas, which prevents him from being able to keep a watchful eye on his mischievous children.
And though their father has previously hired several governesses, the von Trapp kids keep running them off. Once Maria arrives, the von Trapp children anticipate she'll become yet another notch on their belt. Or will she?
Strength in numbers
Seventh-grader Leah Somerville (cast as a nun and party guest) loves being in this large production, because it allows her to sing tunes with a sea of voices in a style that many school musicals don't offer.
Page 2 of 2 - "I like our songs, they're in Latin," beamed Somerville, 12, of Hockessin. "It's real cool listening to the words and learning their definitions."
Eighth-grader Diana Rios (cast as a nun) says "The Sound of Music" has been a new experience for her, since the large show features a mix of ages ranging from 4 to 17.
"It's lots of fun meeting new kids, especially older high-schoolers that you don't get to see a lot," said Rios, 13, of Newark.
Sixth-grader Taylor Gerard (cast as one of three award-winning singers in the Trio of the Saengerbund of Herwegen) concurs with Rios.
"It's a lot of fun because you get to find out [people's] personalities and get to become really good friends with them," said Gerard, 11, of Hockessin.
Even though Malafronti, a junior, has been razzed by the cast about his inexperience handling little kids, the actor wouldn't trade the experience for the world.
"Funny story: I kind of had to be taught how to pick up our littlest child," smiled the slender Malafronti, 17, of Newark. "The first time I picked her up, everybody was laughing at me saying, 'Chris, you don't know how to do it right.' I told them it was because I didn't have a hip."
IF YOU GO
WHAT "The Sound of Music"
WHEN 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 7; 7:30 p.m. Friday, Feb. 8; 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 9; 2 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 10
WHERE Sanford School, 6900 Lancaster Pike, Hockessin
COST $12; ($5 special on Feb. 7 for students)
INFO sanfordschool.org or 239-5263