The Sound of Music on Tour Features Houstonians in Cast and Creative

Jill-Christine Wiley (Disney's Beauty and the Beast), Rodgers & Hammerstein's Carousel, Disney's The Little Mermaid) plays Maria Rainer in the touring production of The Sound of Music. Shown: Maria with the von Trapp children.
Jill-Christine Wiley (Disney's Beauty and the Beast), Rodgers & Hammerstein's Carousel, Disney's The Little Mermaid) plays Maria Rainer in the touring production of The Sound of Music. Shown: Maria with the von Trapp children. Photo by Matthew Murphy
Houston audiences got their first look at the Jack O'Brien-directed touring production of The Sound of Music two years ago at The Hobby Center. Our reviewer had high praise for the libretto by Howard Lindsay and Russel Crouse, declaring it both a triumph and the best version since the iconic original in 1959 with the legendary Mary Martin.

The Sound of Music is rolling in to town again, and it's another shiny, new premiere for our region, courtesy of Society for the Performing Arts. Director Matt Lenz is springboarding off three-time Tony Award® winner O'Brien's direction with this updated look at the singing family in pre WWII Austria; while Jonathan Warren has recreated Danny Meffort's original choreography.

The production also is a casting agent's dream, ably handled by the team of Duncan Stewart CSA and Benton Whitley CSA. With so many roles to fill (seven children!), it gives up-and-coming young talents a chance to shine on stage, as well as providing adults with the very juicy roles of heartthrob Captain von Trapp, lovable nun-in-training Maria, the manipulative Max Detweiler and the Cruella de Vil-like Baroness Schraeder.

The best news of all is that a couple of Houstonians have their foot in the door this time around. We'll see Paul Schoeller, a student from Goodson Middle School in Cypress, in the role of the impossible Friedrich von Trapp. Before joining this North American tour, Schoeller was a member of the school's advanced choir and theater programs.

Anne Cape, who attended St. Francis Episcopal and graduated from Episcopal High School, is assistant company manager, rubbing elbows with a star-studded team of design and production luminaries: Tony Award® nominee Douglas W. Schmidt (set design), Tony Award® winner Jane Greenwood (costume design) and six-time Tony Award® winner Natasha Katz (lighting design).

Cape has been on the road for nine months, working with the company manager to manage all the flights, transportation, hotels and meals for 57 people. "Keeping the company happy for the most part. If we're having a down week, maybe we'll do something fun," says Cape.

The four-time veteran performer of the Tommy Tune Awards credits her time in Houston for her current success, including studying under EHS Theatre Program Coordinator George Brock, who we named one of our 100 Creatives in 2012.

"Houston is the reason I got into theater. I had been dancing and singing and I had my first drama class at St. Francis. I was in my first play, my first musical, and thanks to Episcopal High School I really got to dive into theater," says Cape. While attending Ohio Northern her college audition coach was Dave Clemmons, who serves as dean of the Humphreys School of Musical Theatre. "He would come and do master classes and I found out he was the dean at TUTS. I think he's probably the reason I got into college. And my teacher George Brock; so amazing."

Cape says the coolest part of her job is that she gets to do what she loves every day. "The fact that I get to be backstage every day and see the show, as opposed to being in an office far way sort of sense. Even the nitty gritty, the overnighters, being on a bus for seven hours. I’m so thankful for my job. I get to be in the theater, but in the capacity that I love."

She's also looking forward to visiting some of her favorite stomping grounds while in town. Seeing her mom, eating at Brown Bag Deli and Southwell's Hamburger Grill, visiting The Monogram Shop, hanging out in Tanglewood and going to The Galleria.

Performances of The Sound of Music are scheduled for 7:30 p.m. June 1, 2 and 7:30 p.m. June 2, 1 and 6:30 p.m. June 3 at  Jones Hall, 615 Louisiana, 713-227-4772,, $34 to $129.
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Susie Tommaney is a contributing writer who enjoys covering the lively arts and culture scene in Houston and surrounding areas, connecting creative makers with the Houston Press readers to make every week a great one.
Contact: Susie Tommaney