Plenty happens in Act 1, scene 9 of “The Sound of Music,” on stage at John Jay High School in Cross River this weekend.
<object id=”flashObj” width=”486″ height=”412″ classid=”clsid:D27CDB6E-AE6D-11cf-96B8-444553540000″ codebase=”http://download.macromedia.com/pub/shockwave/cabs/flash/swflash.cab#version=9,0,47,0″><param name=”movie” value=”http://c.brightcove.com/services/viewer/federated_f9/48345545001?isVid=1&publisherID=37861007001″ /><param name=”bgcolor” value=”#FFFFFF” /><param name=”flashVars” value=”omnitureAccountID=gpaper183,gntbcstglobal&pageContentCategory=ENTERTAINMENT&pageContentSubcategory=ENTERTAINMENT&marketName=Westchester, Rockland, Putnam:LoHud&revSciSeg=&revSciZip=07675&revSciAge=1963&revSciGender=male&division=newspaper&SSTSCode=lifestyle/index.htm&videoId=69358664001&playerID=48345545001&domain=embed&” /><param name=”base” value=”http://admin.brightcove.com” /><param name=”seamlesstabbing” value=”false” /><param name=”allowFullScreen” value=”true” /><param name=”swLiveConnect” value=”true” /><param name=”allowScriptAccess” value=”always” /><embed src=”http://c.brightcove.com/services/viewer/federated_f9/48345545001?isVid=1&publisherID=37861007001″ bgcolor=”#FFFFFF” flashVars=”omnitureAccountID=gpaper183,gntbcstglobal&pageContentCategory=ENTERTAINMENT&pageContentSubcategory=ENTERTAINMENT&marketName=Westchester, Rockland, Putnam:LoHud&revSciSeg=&revSciZip=07675&revSciAge=1963&revSciGender=male&division=newspaper&SSTSCode=lifestyle/index.htm&videoId=69358664001&playerID=48345545001&domain=embed&” base=”http://admin.brightcove.com” name=”flashObj” width=”486″ height=”412″ seamlesstabbing=”false” type=”application/x-shockwave-flash” allowFullScreen=”true” swLiveConnect=”true” allowScriptAccess=”always” pluginspage=”http://www.macromedia.com/shockwave/download/index.cgi?P1_Prod_Version=ShockwaveFlash”></embed></object>Just ask Maeve O’Neill, the John Jay sophomore who directs that scene in the Rodgers?& Hammerstein classic.
“The children are in their playclothes and they’re laughing and playing with Maria and they’re not marching — they’re wearing the drapes!” said O’Neill. “So the captain comes in with the baroness, whom he plans to marry, and sees all this going on and he completely freaks out.”
He confronts Maria for not following his orders and Maria delivers an impassioned plea for the captain to listen to and love his children.
“They win him back over, when they come back out and sing ‘The Sound of Music.’”
The title song begins to melt the captain’s long dormant heart, O’Neill said, with the lyric “the hills fill my heart with the sound of music.”
“It’s interesting how the lines line up — the sound of music is filling his heart — even if nobody realizes it,” O’Neill said.
“I’ve always loved Maria’s monologue begging the captain to love his children and I wanted to direct that speech, but Geiger said ‘Why not direct all of scene nine?’
“Geiger” is director Amy Geiger, who has helmed exceptional productions at John Jay in recent years, from “Crazy for You” to last year’s ground-breaking “A Chorus Line.”
O’Neill was a freshman assistant stage manager last year and mentioned that one day she’d like to direct.
This year, that “one day” arrived.
The scene Geiger assigned to O’Neill is a long one.
“I was a little worried at first,”?the student director said. “But Geiger told me to relax.”
The young director watched rehearsals to get a feel for Geiger’s directorial flow. She didn’t want her direction to differ from the rest of the show.
O’Neill said a funny thing happened when she went to stage her scene.
“I had everything so minutely directed — I want this person to go on this line because of this reason — but as it happened on stage, it didn’t work necessarily,” she said. “I liked how they stayed in one spot for a while. In the end my blocking got completely reversed.”
Almost all of the named non-nun characters in the musical make an appearance in Act 1, scene 9, including Uncle Max and the baroness.
At center of it all is senior Elena Pascullo, as Maria, a far cry — or yodel — from Diana Morales, the character she played in last year’s “A Chorus Line.”
Pascullo said researching her character gave her portrayal the depth it required. Oscar Hammerstein’s lyric “the hills are alive with the sound of music” really resonated with Pascullo.
“It’s so relevant throughout the show,” the actress said. “Everything she does is surrounded by music, so that definitely sticks in my head at every rehearsal.”
Josh Buckwald, as the captain, said he was curious at first about how an underclassmen might handle her first directing duties.
“It was cool,” he said. “She did a pretty nice job. She was definitely in control of the situation.”
In O’Neill’s scene, when Maria turns on the captain, it’s emotional for him and “takes some working on,” he said.
“In order to keep it honest, you have to feel the entire weight of what she’s saying. You have to ask yourself ‘What do you know about having a bomb dropped on you like that?’”
Buckwald and his directors decided that the captain should react angrily, with “a how-dare-you aspect. I think that’s been getting the response they wanted.”
It’s Buckwald’s first time singing and after intense work he said “I’ve gotten to a presentable place.”
“It was such a wonderful experience,” O’Neill said. “I don’t know why I expected anything less, but I was astonished by the respect that everybody gave me. It was like Geiger and I didn’t switch,” she said.
The success of her directorial debut is bittersweet, O’Neill said, as Geiger’s music-teaching position is imperiled by budget cuts in the Katonah-Lewisboro district.
Geiger is focused on the task at hand. Talking about the musical seems to drive away concerns over her job, if briefly. She gushed about “The Sound of Music,” the first musical she ever saw, as a girl growing up in Binghamton.
“I remember being mesmerized by it,” she said. “The music is so passionate and powerful and it was time to get back to the basics, in a traditional, classic, endearing show. People fall in love with ‘The Sound of Music’ every time they see it.”
What: “The Sound of Music”
Where: John Jay High School, 60 North Salem Road, Cross River
When: 7 p.m. March 11; 8 p.m. March 12, 13; 2 p.m. March 13
Tickets: $10; $5 students and seniors. Box office opens 1 hour before curtain.
With: Celine Allende, Brittany Banks, Chris Beckett, Jason Beckman, Chelsea Brezak, Josh Buckwald, Logan Carbaugh, Lauren Ciubotaru, Avery Deutsch, Carly Dieck, Emily Feierman, Casey Feinberg, Carolyn Fine, Ariel Genovese, Jake Goldstein, Grace Hammerstein, Jaymee Hodges, Shannon Keane, Paige Lester, Johanna Lewis, Samantha Lish, John A. Loffredo, Ellie Martino, Yanni Metaxas, Samantha Naus, Adam November, Elena Pascullo, Erik Perry, Samara Petigrow, Emma Picket, Jackson Ruzzo, Katy Sackman, Danielle Schoen, Ariana Seraita, Jake Shippee, Isaac Sims, Lucas Spain, Matt Surdej, Jon Vander Werff, Olivia Walsh,Sarah White, Renny Altman, Ben Barone, David Bull, Natalie Burns, Elliya Cutler, Philip Eng, Jackson Grzywacz, Alex Hasapidis, Sara Jurman, Alex Lee, Brian Lehrer, Karen Lilly, Nicole Loscri, Maeve O’Neill, Brian Porco, Stephen Prescott, Christoph Sawyer, Jessica Sheptin, Malcolm Winter, Liam Wisehart