April 29th, 2022

Gallery Theater demonstrates multigenerational impact with The Sound of Music

Parents and their children wearing their costumes for The Sound of Music pose smile for the camera.
Family fun on stage = family fun for the audience. All photos by Ekay Media.

Gallery Theater’s new production of the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical The Sound of Music is a family affair in more ways than one.

It features, of course, the sprawling von Trapp family: Captain Georg von Trapp (Lance Nuttman) and his seven children. But bringing the popular play to life is a large cast that features ten people from four local families. 

A woman smiles with her teenaged daughter and preteen son. Wearing costumes, they stand in front of a set.
The Riddles

Mothers and fathers team up with their sons and daughters, and there’s even a dash of life mirroring the art: Daphne Riddle, 18, and her 10-year-old brother Henry are cast as Louisa and Kurt, two of the von Trapp siblings. 

“I don’t share any scenes with the kids, but Daphne and Henry are together interacting non-stop,” said their mother, Stefanie Riddle, who is in the nun ensemble and has twice acted in plays with Daphne and another daughter. “She’s a real pro at this and it’s his first show.” 

It’s common for Gallery’s family-friendly productions requiring large casts to feature parents with their children. 

A woman smiles with her teenaged daughter.  Wearing costumes, they stand in front of a set.
The Thomases

For Melissa and Webb Thomas, this is their second stage outing with daughter Leigh, now 13, at Gallery. They first appeared together in 2016’s The Music Man. In The Sound of Music, Melissa plays Sister Margaretta and Leigh is in the nun ensemble while understudying for Louisa; Webb designed and directed the building of the set. 

“It’s such a big time commitment, so doing it together means we actually get to see one another,” Melissa said. The Webbs live in Newberg, so rehearsal evenings mean “a quick bite and run” before heading to McMinnville, often singing the entire way.

“The drive back and forth can be fun depending on the music selection and what mood everyone is in,” she said. “On Friday nights we unwind by watching RuPaul’s Drag Race together.” 

For two other families, The Sound of Music is their first time on stage together. 

A woman smiles with her young daughter.  Wearing costumes, they stand in front of a set.
The Bjorlins

For Dominique Bjorlin, playing an ensemble nun and party-goer is her third outing on Gallery’s stage, but it’s the first with 7-year-old daughter Annika, who plays Gretl von Trapp. 

“Annika has learned so much during the rehearsal process,” she said. “It has been a roller coaster of emotions at times, but overall it has been a joy to watch her do this.” And Annika brings her own joy to the experience: Every night she insists on patting everyone on the head to say goodbye. 

“Everyone lets her do it,” Dominique said. “It’s become a thing.”

A man smiles with his young daughter.  Wearing costumes, they stand in front of a set.
The Morgans

Travis Morgan’s daughter Esther, who plays Marta von Trapp, knew that he’d done theater in high school, and she was the one who wanted to audition for The Sound of Music, the film of which is something of a rite of passage for many children. 

“I helped her prepare her piece for the audition, and I also auditioned,” said Morgan, who plays Franz the Butler. “She has loved every minute of the experience.” On nights when director Seth Renne lets cast members out early, he adds, Esther objects: “Dad, there is still thirty more minutes, why does it have to end early?”

No more early releases from here on out, though. The show runs through May 22.   

“I’m most excited for the show to open,” said Stefanie. “I can’t wait to see Henry’s reaction when there is an audience.”

Laughing, she adds: “He’s already asked if people will bring him flowers.”

Rodgers and Hammerstein’s The Sound of Music plays Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m. through May 22 at Gallery Theater, 210 NE Ford Street in downtown McMinnville. Masks are encouraged but not required; proof of vaccination or a negative Covid-19 test is required for admission. For more information, visit the website or call 503-472-2227.

A cartoon of David Bates

About the author: David Bates is a McMinnville writer who has appeared in Gallery Theater productions since 1998.