RARITAN TWP., NJ - Hunterdon Central High School's production of “The Sound of Music” will open tomorrow and continue through Saturday.

The show is set in Austria just as the Nazis are taking over the country. It stars senior Sarah Andersen as Maria, the tuneful governess who might become a nun. Sarah was one of the Zangler Follies girls in last year's musical, “Crazy for You.”

Maria is hired by Capt. Von Trapp (Ben Sheneman) to care for his motherless children Liesl (Melissa Molter), Friedrich (AJ Knox), Brigitta (Sydney Cook), Marta (Megan Rice), Louisa (Hanna Cella) and Kurt (Josh Witzling) and Gretl (Avery Boarts).

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Director Gail Enterline says she selected this show “because it was the 50th anniversary” and she “wanted to do a family show this year.”

In her program notes, she says, “Staging a musical play that is so well known is a daunting task, because you must try to honor the iconic memories of the audience, while at the same time allowing your young actors the freedom to create their own unique interpretation of the characters. I believe we have lovingly achieved this balance and the result is a production that is both nostalgic and fresh...”

In that vein, Sarah Andersen says, it's “very difficult to carry a show that is so well known while also making the character my own. Julie Andrews is a tough act to follow, and I can only hope I can meet the expectations of the audience.”

Is Sarah anything like the woman she portrays? “Maria is a fun-loving woman who isn’t afraid to speak her mind,” observes Sarah. “She becomes a wonderful mother to the Captain’s seven children. I personally don’t know if I’d have the courage to do all that Maria did, but I do find a lot of the character easy to relate to. Many of my friends call me 'Mom' and like Maria, I find music to be the best way to feel better.”

She loves “getting ready for the show with makeup, hair, costumes, and microphones. Seeing the transformation that happens over some good pump-up music with all my best friends is just as fun as performing with them.”

She also enjoys working with Avery Boarts, the 6-year-old who plays Gretl, the youngest von Trapp child. She “knows every song and dance and takes direction extremely well,” says Sarah. “Avery is a star, and I can’t wait to see the amazing accomplishments to happen in her future.”

Based on a true story, “The Sound of Music” made its Broadway debut in 1959 and the movie was released in 1965. Its songs, written by Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein, include “My Favorite Things,” “Climb Ev'ry Mountain” and “Do-Re-Mi.”

The production staff includes Megan Petrushun, vocal director; William Magalio, orchestra director; Elissa J. Loubet, choreographer; Melissa Mongi, costume supervisor; James Duffy, set designer and builder and stage crew supervisor; Tim Klein, technical director; Hillary Morano, business manager; Lino Santiago and Allyson DeMarco, student directors; and stage manager Julia Lloyd.

The cast also includes Tara Keelen as the Mother Abbess, who advises Maria to work some metaphoric mountain climbing into her decision-making process with regard to becoming a nun.

Mary Pomykacz, Caleigh Holland and Sadie Disbrow play Sisters Berthe, Margareta, and Sophia. Jack Amabile plays Rolf, Liesl's suitor and ambivalent Nazi; Alissa Indeck, Capt. Von Trapp's would-be fiancee; Olivia Matko and James Van Patten as the servants; Jay Gallagher as talent promoter Max Detweiler; with additional roles filled by Mason Forringer, Lena Verga, Liam Carroll, Gianna Castaldo, Brandon Fisher and Vanessa Scarpelli.

The show will be presented in the auditorium on Thursday and Friday, March 10 and 11 and at 1 and 7 p.m. on Saturday, March 12. All tickets are $12 for reserved seats.

Tickets can be purchased at the box office located in front of the auditorium, 3-5 p.m. today (Wednesday). Thereafter it will open two hours before showtime. For more information, leave a message on the box office phone at 908-284-7119 or email musical@hcrhs.org.