By Grace Oborne
Music, dance, and theatre performance are about to become a few of the county’s favourite things.
The Highlands Summer Festival returns to the stage in July and August, starting with the opening of The Sound of Music on July 4. There will be 10 performances, including three matinees.
The shows will be staged at the Northern Lights Performing Arts Pavilion, which is in Haliburton Highlands Secondary School in Haliburton.
The Sound of Music tells the story of Maria who becomes a governess to seven of the von Trapp children while contemplating whether to become a nun. She inevitably falls in love with the children and Captain von Trapp. Meanwhile the forces of Nazism take hold of Austria, leaving Maria and the von Trapp family to make difficult decisions.
After two years of postponement due to the pandemic, the artistic director, Scot Denton, looks forward to a grand return to the stage.
“After being postponed for two summers with everybody in lockdown and having restrictions, this is such a joyous story to come and watch,” Denton said.
The cast of The Sound of Music requires specific attention to detail, specifically to the height of actors, making the two-year pandemic gap a struggle. The children who auditioned for a certain role in 2020 have since grown and developed.
“There is fun and comedy in the fact that the von Trapp kids range in age and in height. You want to make sure the youngest is the littlest in size. The kids are two years older now. You can’t use the same kids two years later, because they don’t look like kids anymore,” explained Denton.
“That’s definitely been a struggle, is trying to make sure that we’re keeping the cast the way that it should be for the show.”
The mother-daughter duo of Meghan Mardus and her daughter, Evelyn have both been cast for roles.
Meghan is playing Sister Berthe and Evelyn will play the role of Marta von Trapp, the second youngest children of seven.
“I am the nun who does not want Maria to stay in the Abbey and the group of women who play the nuns are lovely. We have such a great time at rehearsals. We laugh, sing, and we work hard of course,” Meghan said.
Both Meghan and Evelyn auditioned in 2020 and weren’t sure if the show would still be staged two years later. Meghan is beyond excited to put on a show for the community and Evelyn believes that theatre is what brings Haliburton together.
“To bring the festival back with a show like The Sound of Music just feels so appropriate because it is just the quintessential musical and it is so loved by generations of theatre goers. It is also very emotional, because not only is it just the culmination of months of work, but now it is also the culmination of waiting two years,” Meghan said.
“I think that live theatre has always been a part of Haliburton and a lot of the actors are from Haliburton, which is cool. I also think that Haliburton loves watching all these theatre productions, so it is a part of Haliburton,” said Evelyn.
The last time the Highlands Summer Festival put on The Sound of Music was in 2004 and the tickets sold out. Even though Denton was not the director at the time, this did not come as a surprise to him.
“It’s joyous. People love the music. The audience experiences the story with the characters in a very special way,” he said.
Denton is also directing another show scheduled for August called Every Brilliant Thing. More shows include, Importance of Being Earnest and the festival also has two guest productions, which are Lucien and Across the Pond.
The Sound of Music is a story that brings people together.
“Music is a universal language and people need it right now. It’s an important time to get out there and do some things as a community, especially live activities with real people and entertainment such as theatre and music,” Denton said.
For more information or to purchase tickets, visit www.highlandssummerfestival.on.ca/events.html.