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Curtain goes up on 'The Sound of Music' at the Averitt Oct. 21
tianna and flanders
The Averitt Center's production of "The Sound of Music" will feature Ami Palmer as Maria and Caleb Flanders as Captain Von Trapp. - photo by By SCOTT BRYANT/staff

The family Von Trapp will once again fill the air with sounds of “Edelweiss” and “My Favorite Things” as the classic “The Sound of Music” comes to the Averitt Center for the Arts on Oct. 21-24.

Heading up the Von Trapp family will be Caleb Flanders, playing Captain Georg Von Trapp, alongside his real-life girlfriend Ami Palmer, who will portray Maria Rainer, a postulant at Nonnberg Abbey, who comes to be the governess for the captain’s seven children.

Flanders says this will be his first production beyond high school, and he says he truly enjoys acting.

“I enjoy that acting is an enjoyable experience for me,” he said. “Repetitive, I know, but there is a certain romance to being in a production such as this one with others who are so committed, loving and willing to work together in an effort to put a great show into the world. There isn’t much more enjoyable than that.”

Flanders says that what he enjoys about musicals is the unity between the acting and the music, and seeing the same emotions in the music that is being portrayed by the actors in their characters. He came by this role, he says, in an unconventional way.

“(Ami) and I had actually sat down and watched the Julie Andrews version of ‘The Sound of Music’ that everyone knows and loves, and I thought to myself, ‘I’d like to try that musical one day.’ A month later, I was getting in touch with someone and auditioning for the musical production of the show at the Averitt,” he said. He went after the role of the captain.

“I feel (a kindred spirit) with the captain in certain ways,” he said.

Palmer is working on her master’s in vocal performance at Georgia Southern University, so performing in front of an audience will be nothing new for her. She stepped into the role earlier this month, after the cast member originally chosen had to drop out.

She’s been involved in plays since elementary school, and did her first musical in middle school. She’s been involved in the opera program at GSU, and plays bassoon in the orchestra. She says she enjoys acting because it “allows you to connect with an audience through a story.”

“It’s also really exciting to explore a role with that character’s mindset rather than your own,” she added. “While a little different from the classical stage, I enjoy musicals because it brings together everything I enjoy: acting, singing and even a little dancing.”

Palmer says the role of Maria is a special one, and the original film has been one of her favorites. This particular opportunity, she adds, is extra special, because she gets to portray the iconic role alongside her boyfriend.

She is preparing for her role by analyzing character relationships, repeating lines for memorization and putting subtext to her music.

“As a performance major graduate at GSU, role preparation is almost second nature,” she said.

Likewise, Flanders says he is spending extra time outside of rehearsal going over the music and working on his lines. He says he doesn’t plan to necessarily make the role his own, but does plan to respect the role.

“I believe the portrayal of the part is involved in who the actor is as a person. I think, in essence, there is a new version of Captain von Trapp in each actor who has ever played him. I am simply satisfied to be cast as the captain and have an opportunity to portray him as my individuality allows,” he said.

As for the relationship between the captain and Maria, Flanders says that it will evolve in a dramatic way over the course of the show.

“It’s one of the most beautiful things in the show, next to the voices of the children, of course,” Flanders says.

Palmer says that being in a relationship off stage will help their portrayal on stage, and will support the performance chemistry.

“I think that’s something that definitely makes my role unique,” she said. “Also, being classically trained, it’s exciting to step out of my comfort zone and explore different approaches to using my voice.”

Palmer says she loves that the relationship between the captain and Maria catches Maria by surprise.

“It’s so stereotypical to say that people fall in love when they least expect it, but it’s so true,” she said. “Also, her character is so caring for everyone, so it’s really cool to see her develop and grow into her love for the captain. It’s also super sweet how she falls in love with the children first.”

Flanders expressed his gratitude to the Averitt for allowing the production, and he also thanked the cast for “being so wonderful and easy to work with.”

“I would also like to thank director Eddie Frazier and music director Robert Cottle for their extraordinary abilities and instruction. There is no show without you,” he said.

The children in the production are being played by Tate Miller, Ryan Wolfe, Molly Griswald, John Wesley Keene, Caroline Sawhill, Ada Mock and Elsa King.  Ashley Horton will take on the role of the Mother Abbess, while Christie McLendon, Megan O’Donnell and Anastasia Brown will take on the role of sisters Berthe, Margaretta and Sophia, respectively.

Tickets for the show are $25, with employees available for students, military, first-responders, and city and county employees. Shows begin on Oct. 21-23 at 7:30 p.m., and on Oct. 24 at 3 p.m. Buy tickets online at www.averittcenterforthearts.org or call 912-212-2787. 

cottle flanders and tianna
Flanders is looking forward to playing the stern but loving father in the musical, opening on Oct. 21. He's measured for costuming by director Robert Cottle, at left, as Ami Palmer looks on.
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