We Breathe the Same Air…

The actors breathe the same air as the audience.

That is the magic of live theatre. Sometimes the actors flub, but usually recover beautifully. If you are close enough, you can see facial expressions, make-up, and costume details. You are right there with the  performers.

I recently had an opportunity to see “The Sound of Music” at the “Holly Theatre” in beautiful Dahlonega, GA. The theatre has a fascinating history dating back to the gold rush days and silent movies. You can follow the link here to learn more:

http://www.hollytheater.com/about-us.html

Now this is a really small theatre and I couldn’t imagine how they could pull off such an ambitious production. A neighbor couple joined us for a splendid Sunday afternoon drive to Dahlonega, an amazing show, and a superb dinner at the restaurant next door, delightfully named “The Corkscrew Cafe.”

The performance began with a procession of nuns coming down each aisle carrying candles and chanting in Latin. Having grown up Catholic, I was immediately enthralled. It got better from there.  The stage was deftly transfigured from a nunnery, to a mountain backdrop, to the elegant Von Trapp family home.  Set technicians (for whom I have great respect) quenched the lights and in a minute, voilà!

It is easy to create magic with technology and buckets of money. Not so easy with paint, plywood, and a shoestring budget. But the “Holly Theatre” achieved that goal.

I loved the movie but the story never affected me as it did on stage. Von Trapp and Maria were wonderful, as were the Baroness and Max. But the children stole the show. They were so beautiful, talented, and obviously enjoying themselves. I wanted to hug each one of them. The biggest surprise was a young woman who played Mother Superior. When she belted out “Climb Every Mountain”, I don’t think there was a dry eye in the theatre. A patron beside me pointed out the woman’s parents a few rows ahead, and I could only imagine how proud they must be.

Theatre—especially a little theatre—creates intimacy. I enjoy movies, but it is not the same, especially the Hollywood epics where everything is perfect—unless it is purposely grotesque. I lost myself in this musical. When the Von Trapp family was singing at the festival, I had chills looking at the Nazi flags unfurled on either side of the stage, blood red and emblazoned with swastikas. Soldiers were positioned above the stage with guns trained over the audience.

This really happened in my parents’ lifetime. For a moment, I was transported back and could imagine what it must have felt like for the victims. When the Nazis realized the family had escaped, storm troopers poured down the aisles scanning the audience with flashlights. That doesn’t happen in a movie—even with 3D.

The production ended with the Von Trapp family tromping up the aisle on their way to the Alps. I am a sucker for a story where good triumphs over evil. It revives my soul. Judging from the standing ovation, the audience agreed. When we exited the theatre, the entire cast welcomed us on the sidewalk outside. What a treat!

If you have a local theatre near you, don’t hesitate. GO! They cannot survive without your support, and I suspect we need them as much as they need us.

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10 Comments to “We Breathe the Same Air…”

  1. The Holly is a great little venue. I have seen several productions there and the audience/cast proximity is a theater lover’s dream. I always look forward to their productions.

  2. I was in this production and I played Louisa Von Trapp. I cannot tell you how much it absolutely warms my heart to read this. It means so much to hear this great of a response to a show that we all put so much effort into. I hope that you will continue to come see them. God bless. 🙂

  3. Really liked this post. Love going to the theatre, plays especially. Unfortunately nothing in my area, but so agree with your closing line.

    Madeline

  4. Dear K.M. Deal,
    I just saw this for the first time today! I am blessed so much by this article. I am the director of Mello Drama Productions (the production company that staged this show at the Holly Theater) and indeed the director of this show. There is so much I could say about how amazing my cast and crew was. The creative elements you pointed out were designed to get just this response. One of the things I love about theater is; oftentimes the “story gets lost” in the movie. The Sound of Music is not about a cute singing nun and seven singing children (though we certainly had that!) It’s about an Austrian Naval Captain and his struggle with his conscience, during a time when the atmosphere was oppressive and the future unclear. It thrills me when my audience “gets the story!” Mello Drama plans to stage more shows of excellent quality in the future. I hope you will come see those as well!
    Blessings, Neva Garrett

  5. Thank you ,thank ,you thank you.
    I cried as I read this. The cast worked so hard to pull this off. The director was amazing the cast was perfect the set was the best. And my son Who played Kurt had the experience of a lifetime !!!! Thankyou for coming to our show.
    Please come back to our blessed theater !
    Tammi Johnson scales

    • I am so pleased you enjoyed the article. It was such a pleasure to watch a local performance directed and acted by such talented and enthusiastic people. I will be returning on a regular basis and bringing friends with me.

    • I am so glad you liked the article. It was from the heart. From what I read your son has been in several productions. I hope to see him in another.

  6. I played Brigitta! It really WAS a lot of fun! Thanks so much to White Interiors of Dawsonville for sponsoring this show!

  7. The show was excellent and very entertaining…such a display of the incredible talent we have here in Dahlonega! The set design and construction was absolutely amazing! It just shows what can be pulled off when talented people work together. Looking forward to more.

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