Gresham students presenting junior version of ‘Sound of Music’

Leader Photo by Lee Pulaski The Von Trapp children bid the guests at their home, along with the audience, good night in one of the scenes from “Getting to Know the Sound of Music”: from left, front row, Alex Burr (Kurt), Grace Haffner (Gretl) and Josie Cerveny (Brigitta); back row, Tessa Ferguson (Marta), Hannah Cerveny (Louisa), Kennedy Hoffman (Liesl) and Val Cerveny (Friedrich).

Leader Photo by Lee Pulaski Capt. Von Trapp, played by Randy Chicks, proposes marriage to Maria, played by Alyssa Roe, during a scene for “Getting to Know the Sound of Music.” The show opens Friday at Gresham Community School.

Fans of “The Sound of Music” can rejoice as Gresham Community School performs the classic musical this week.

The school is performing the junior version of the musical written by Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein, “Getting to Know the Sound of Music,” on Friday and Saturday nights. Nearly 40 students are in the cast.

The musical harkens back to the 1930s, when Nazi Germany was on the rise. Audiences are introduced to Maria, a young postulant in a nunnery who is sent to be a governess for the Von Trapp family, which includes seven children.

As Maria tries to assume her duties of teaching and caring for the children, she introduces the children to the concept of music, something alien to them because their father, Capt. Von Trapp, has forbade any music since the death of his wife years earlier.

Maria soon finds herself falling in love with the captain, and he with her. After some doubt, the two decide to marry, but the honeymoon ends quickly as Germany takes over Austria. The captain is forcibly commissioned to command a warship.

This is the third year that Gresham Community School has produced a musical, and the program seems to be gaining in popularity. Heidi Cerveny is directing this year’s show after the teacher who directed the first two musicals left for a job in another school district.

“The talent that we have at the school right now, it just seemed to be the right fit to put on this production,” Cerveny said.

Besides the usual challenges with a theatrical production, Cerveny had the added task of helping the students, who range from elementary to high school, understand the historical context for “The Sound of Music.” At the start of the rehearsals, she made sure they learned about the rise of Nazi Germany and the impact that the annexation of Austria had on Europe.

“We tried to explain the seriousness of that period of time,” Cerveny said. “This is definitely a historical musical they’re putting on, whereas in the past they’ve had more of a fun element to them. I did some research myself to help explain things, so they could be present in the period of time.”

Because the show is a junior version, lasting 90 minutes instead of 2 1/2 to 3 hours, some things have been removed from the version fans have grown up on. For example, the character of the baroness and the wedding scene have been cut, Cerveny said.

“Some of the songs are in a different order from how they were in the movie,” Cerveny said. “It’s half as long, which is good for families that bring their kids.”