Off Square Theatre students rejuvenate a classic with “The Sound of Music”

The company's Natalia Macker and local youth performers discuss "The Sound of Music" and sing one of its timeless songs.
Off Square Theatre Education Director Sadie Frank, left, directs student performers as they sing "Do Re Mi" in advance of the youth musical version of "The Sound of Music" this weekend in Jackson. (Jack Catlin/KHOL)

by | Feb 22, 2023 | People, Performing Arts

Off Square Theatre is proud to present their 2023 youth musical rendition of the classic “The Sound of Music” in the Center Theater Feb. 24th and Feb. 25th  at the Center for the Arts. 

Perhaps the world’s most-beloved musical, “The Sound of Music” has won the hearts of audiences worldwide, earning five Tony Awards and five Oscars. 

The Youth Musical is an essential part of Off Square Theatre’s annual calendar, offering young artists an opportunity to create, learn, and perform on The Center’s main stage and learn the ins and outs of the technical side of theater through youth crew positions. “The Sound of Music” features students in grades 3-12 on stage and on crew.


In advance of the production’s opening night on Friday, Feb. 24th, Off Square Theatre’s Producing Artistic Director Natalia Macker and two of the performers, siblings Hugh and Francis Reid, joined us in the KHOL studios.

Listen above for more and check out a transcript of the interview below. This conversation has been edited for clarity and brevity.

KHOL/JACK CATLIN: The annual youth musical offers young artists the opportunity to create and perform on the center’s main stage, but also learn the ins and outs of the technical side of theater through youth group positions. Can you expand on that for us and walk us through what the production process was like from beginning to end?

NATALIA MACKER: The youth musical journey started about 12 months ago when we selected the title. For the kids in the show, it started about six months ago when we held auditions and then cast the show and they found out their parts. And then they get to spend some time watching the movie and getting excited while we at the theater are doing a lot of behind the scenes production preparation. And then rehearsals started the first week of January and they rehearse almost every day while we during the day are working on sets and design things so that the cast of 55 kids is supported by a professional production and design team.

And then we had applications for youth crew positions, and the youth crew started coordinating with some of our design teams in advance. And then when we moved into the theater about a week ago, the volume really got turned up on everything. And so we’re here every day incorporating all of the components that they’ve been rehearsing separately and adding in sets and costumes and props.

The youth crew are learning their positions backstage. They’re choreographing set changes, they’re helping write the lighting cues and operate the light board. And so a lot of preparation that’s happening independently then comes together in this final two weeks and really over the whole process part of what we’re doing is building a big family and learning to trust each other and rely on each other and help each other so that when we get into the performance, we’re all moving towards the same goal and lifting each other up. And if we make a mistake, we know what to do and we know that our peer is going to be on stage next to us and how to get through the story. And getting to celebrate all of the hard work to get to this final moment where the curtain rises and the audience is there for the first time.

KHOL: What are you hoping the local community takes away from these performances?

MACKER: I’m really excited to share this show with the community, partially because I think there’s a lot people will connect with that are here. My favorite song in the show is “Climb Every Mountain,” and the lyrics include “Climb every mountain, cross every stream till you find your dream.” And I feel like that could be the answer for a lot of people that live in our community. And the themes of this show that are so present today, even though it takes place in 1938 that are, I think, important for all of us to remember things like we can choose courage over evil and that by working together, we can do the right thing.

I also love how Maria’s story that she thinks she’s chosen the right path and then she’s challenged by life that maybe she should have a different path. And she kind of has this moment as a character where she has to make decisions about that. And those are things that all of us are experiencing all the time. And then it sets it to like really beautiful music that we all know and hum. I hope that people come to the show and enjoy the music, but then see a little bit more of the story and allow it to reflect on their life today and to learn something about a period of time that maybe they glossed over originally because of how the story was first presented.

KHOL: Well, finally, everyone we have Hugh and Francis and the rest of the Von Trapp family Singers performing a song for us from “The Sound of Music.” Which song will you be singing and what stands out to you about this song?

HUGH REID: The song that we will be singing is called “Do-Re-Mi,” and the importance of the song is that the captain, who is the father of the Von Trapp family, has recently lost his wife, and that’s almost affected everyone in the family. The captain almost feels like he can’t be vulnerable anymore, and Maria comes into their life and shows them the light in the dark. And this moment where she’s teaching them how to sing. It’s such a simple, yet elegant way is just a way of showing how a tragedy of loss can take so much away but it takes one person who just tries a little harder to make it all better.

Listen above for KHOL’s full conversation with Off Square Theatre’s Natalia Macker and performers Hugh and Francis Reid.


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About Jack Catlin

Jack is KHOL's music director. He says all music is in some way connected no matter the style and his mission is to provide listeners with a unique and memorable experience each time they tune in to KHOL or see him DJ live.

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