Announcing the Cast of The Sound of Music
Almost everyone has heard the songs and knows the story of The Sound of Music, including performances as Maria and Captain Von Trapp by Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer in the movie or Mary Martin and Theodore Bikel on Broadway. It is, indeed, a grand story with many memorable actors. The Utah Shakespeare Festival’s production this summer will have all of that—and just a bit more: this cast will feature actors of color in the roles of Maria, the Mother Abbess, and others.
“I’m excited to bring non-traditional casting into our version of The Sound of Music,” said director Keenon Hooks. “We have assembled an excellent cast to help bring this story to life. Rarely will you find classic stories like this told with casting actors of color at large scale regional theatres, and I couldn’t be happier to share our story this way.”
The cast will include the following:
Daria Pilar Redus is returning to the Festival after a standout performance last year as Sarah in Ragtime. She will be playing the role of Maria in The Sound of Music and will be in the ensemble of Clue. Other Festival roles from the past have included Kate in The Pirates of Penzance, Featured Soloist in Big River, and Featured Performer in The Greenshow. In the first national tour of The Spongebob Musical she took on the role of Sandy Cheeks and has also played Regina in Rock of Ages at the John W. Engeman Theatre, Ensemble in Kinky Boots at the Arvada Center, and more. She is a member of Actors’ Equity Association.
“To me, Maria embodies what it means to be beautifully flawed, sincere, courageous, nurturing, candid and self-loving,” she said in talking about the starring role. “And the very things that make Maria ‘a problem’ that some may feel the need to ‘solve’ could be the key to her happiness and freedom. I can’t wait to share this heartwarming story with you and hope that it inspires us all to pursue our dreams!”
Michael Sharon is returning to the Festival after a fifteen-year absence, this year to play the roles of Captain Von Trapp in The Sound of Music, as well as Professor Plum in Clue. In past seasons he has played Orsino in Twelfth Night and Tullus Aufidius in Coriolanus in 2007; Antonio in The Merchant of Venice and The Dancin’ Kid in Johnny Guitar in 2006; and Lancelot in Camelot and Theseus/Oberon in A Midsummer Night’s Dream in 2005.
He has performed off-Broadway in The Fantasticks (Jerry Orbach Theatre), The Most Happy Fella (NYCity Opera), and Happy Hunting and Josephine’s Song (The York). Regionally he has appeared across the country in theatres such as the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Folger Theatre, Los Angeles Theatre Center, Milwaukee Rep, Pioneer Theatre Company, and more. In additional he played Leontes in The Winter’s Tale at GBS Theatre in London. His training was at the University of Southern California and the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art.
Lisa Strum is “overjoyed to be joining the Utah Shakespeare Festival season!” In her first year at the Festival, she will be playing Mother Abbess in The Sound of Music and Goneril in King Lear. Her theatre credits are wide ranging and include work at Lincoln Center, Public Theatre, The Acting Company, Classical Theatre of Harlem, Resident Ensemble Players, Detroit Public Theatre, People’s Light, Julliard, Intiman Theatre, MECA Arts Festival (Puerto Rico), International Dublin Gay Theatre Festival (Dublin), and National Black Theatre. Television credits include Law & Order: SVU, New Amsterdam, The Blacklist, and Citizen Baines. She is a member of Actors’ Equity Association and SAG-AFTRA
Interestingly, she said, “I played Mother Abbess when I was sixteen years old in high school. To return to the character decades later is a full-circle moment!”
Ilyssa Rubin will be joining the Festival for the first time this season, appearing as Liesl in The Sound of Music, Ensemble in Sweeney Todd, and Featured Performer in The Greenshow. She has appeared at Cortland Repertory Theatre (Hermia in A Midsummer Night’s Dream), Hunterdon Hills Playhouse (Christmas at the Playhouse), Rider University (Margo in Bright Star), and others. She received a BFA in musical theatre from Rider University in 2021.
“I am so excited to be a part of the Festival’s 2022 season,” Rubin said. “Growing up, The Sound of Music movie was played on a constant loop at my house. I was in love with it! One of the first songs I ever worked on with a voice teacher was ‘Sixteen Going on Seventeen,’ so it . . . really is a dream come true!”
Ethan Van Slyke is also appearing at the Festival for the first time this season. He will be playing the roles of Rolf Gruber in The Sound of Music, Tobias Ragg in Sweeney Todd, and Featured Performer in The Greenshow. He has appeared in regional theares around the country, such as Arena Stage (Newsies, Watch on the Rhine, and Oliver!); Forestburgh Playhouse (Altar Boyz, You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown, and And the World Goes Round); NextStep Theatre (Singin’ in the Rain); and the University of Michigan (A Midsummer Night’s Dream).
He is studying at the University of Michigan, working on a BFA in musical theatre.
Other members of the cast include:
- Lucy Austin as Ursula
- Liz Baxley as Sister Margaretta
- Andrew Fehrenbacher as Admiral Von Schreiber
- Michael Fitzpatrick as Max Detweiler
- Tim Fullerton as Herr Zeller
- Shannon Galligan-Stierle as Frau Schmidt
- Augusto Guardado as Ensemble
- Nathan Haltiwanger as Ensemble
- Luke Sidney Johnson as Baron Elberfeld
- Samantha Paredes as Ensemble
- Melinda Parrett as Elsa
- Mark Saunders as Franz
- Taylor Tveten as Sister Berthe and Baroness Elberfeld
In addition, twelve young actors will be taking on the roles of the younger children in the Von Trapp family. Each role is double cast as follows:
- Gwynn Christ and Rubey Pearson as Gretl
- Shelby Fawson and Molly Pearson as Louisa
- Liv Harter and Kate Sowards as Brigitta
- Penny Hodson and Ridley Hulse as Marta
- Mack Lawrence and Ian Wilson as Kurt
- Brooke Mellen and Joel Wilson as Friedrich