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April 10, 2014

Photos, Preview, Cast List: Portersville to present ‘Sound of Music’

NEW CASTLE — Ryan Ingram put the cast before the musical.

As director of musicals at Portersville Christian School, Ingram knew he had a lot of new students interested in this year’s production, but he didn’t know the youngsters’ strengths. So, he held auditions before selecting what show would take the stage.

“We didn’t know where the talent fell, so we held auditions first,” he explained. “Everyone who helped with the auditions immediately thought of ‘The Sound of Music’ for these kids.

“At first, I hesitated, knowing the Carrie Underwood live TV production was coming up,” Ingram continued. “But we decided to go for it hoping people would see that and then want to see an actual stage performance.”

Audiences will get that chance April 10, 11 and 12 when the Butler County school performs its version of the 1959 Rogers and Hammerstein classic made famous by Julie Andrews’ 1965 film version.

Underwood’s performance and the fact that PCS uses the Andrews’ film as part of its music curriculum helped familiarize some cast members with the show.

“Most of the time, I pick something and they have no clue,” Ingram said, laughing.

Still, the play isn’t without challenges.

For Ingram, one of those was finding students who lined up perfectly by height to be the seven singing Von Trapp children.

“I'm still worried my little one playing Gretl, who’s supposed to be 5, is going to be taller than Marta, who’s 6, by show time,” said Ingram, whose wife, Courtney, serves as choreographer.

Another challenge was the languages. The nuns at the Nonnberg Abbey where lead character Maria Von Trapp lives for a period sing in Latin, while some lines spoken by other actors are in German.

Having Katharina Lopp, who portrays a nun and a general’s wife, on hand helped with that. The foreign exchange student from Germany is staying with the Tipton family of New Wilmington.

Katharina, who admits she had never heard of “The Sound of Music” before coming to PCS, said her experience with the musical has been a lot of fun.

“She’d be home alone if we didn’t talk her into doing the musical with us,” noted Alicia Tipton, a junior who plays 12-year-old Louisa Von Trapp. “It’s a fun American experience for her.”

Also playing a nun is younger sister Meaghan Tipton, who has another role as a goat. The “animals,” done marionette-style, are one of Ingram’s twists on the production.

Senior James Mangiapane of Ellwood City has an unusual dual role — as actor and orchestra member.

Not only is he Max Detweiler, Capt. Von Trapp’s friend and agent, but Mangiapane also plays the xylophone with the orchestra.

“This is my 13th show at Portersville and as much as I’ve loved being in musicals, I think I’m growing to like band more,” he explained, recalling some of his favorite roles including Rooster in “Annie” and Cogsworth in “Beauty and Beast.”

And, as for Ingram, he’s pleased with his choice.

“It is amazing, seeing how everyone ended up fitting their roles very, very well.”

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