BELOIT-The halls at West Branch High School are alive with the sound of music thanks to the voices of nearly 75 women from the West Branch Community.
The "Sound of Music" runs at 7:30 p.m. Feb. 10 and 11 and 3 p.m. Feb. 12 in the West Branch Community Auditorium. Tickets are on sale now. For information or to reserve tickets call 330-938-4442.
The "Sound of Music" Nuns' Chorus was the idea of choral director John Zamarelli who has staged "The Sound of Music" several times in his career. This time, he sent an announcement to area churches and organizations and invited female singers to become part of the production.
Pictured are several members of the Community Nuns Chorus as part of the ‘Sound of Music”?to be presented at West Branch High School, first row, from left, Mary Lou Williams, Randi Beegle; second row, Marion Gainor, Laura Smith; third row, Pam Miller, Tonya Edie, Laurie Briggs; fourth row, Lori McLaughlin, Marvilla Miller, Angie Fowler. (Submitted photo)
"We are delighted and a little overwhelmed by the response," said Zamarelli. "The Sound of Music" has several scenes that take place in an Abbey, and we wanted to create the atmosphere of the large, European Cathedral. When the audience hears the community female voices blending with our student chorus of nuns I think that they will be amazed and moved."
The Community Chorus will have logged about 18 hours of rehearsal time when the show opens. "The dedication and talent of these ladies is truly inspiring," said Zamarelli. "The music is a challenge since some of it is in Latin. But, the group is up to the challenge."
The idea behind the Community Chorus was to give community members a chance to interact with students and to join together to bring this classic musical to the stage. "We have some moms and grandmothers in the group," according to Zamarelli.
"What is really special to me is the number of graduates who live in the area who have returned and the number of ladies who don't have any particular tie to the school right now. They just like to sing and want to be a part of a community effort."
Karen Rice, West Branch Class of 1975 and an employee in the treasurer's office at West Branch, is excited to be a part of the production. "Our office is right down the hall from the choral room. We hear the kids all year long either getting ready for holiday music or getting ready for a musical production. They always seem to be having such a good time that I think a lot of us thought that it would be a lot of fun to be able to be a part of a West Branch musical production.
"We are having a lot of fun, but the group is pretty serious about the music. After the last rehearsal, I saw three ladies singing in the parking lot and practicing their choreography. The kids always do such an awesome job, and we want to make sure that we perform at an equal level."
"The Sound of Music" features over 50 West Branch students, along with the 50-member Nuns' Chorus for a total cast of 100.
The West Branch Community Auditorium, which opened in 2000, seats 1,000 people and has a 60 foot-long stage.
"I am not sure that we could have supported this large of a cast before we were so fortunate to move into the auditorium," said Zamarelli. "The Sound of Music was actually the last production we did on the stage in the gymnasium, prior to the opening of the auditorium. Once we shut the doors and the nuns' chorus starts to sing, I think the audience will really feel as though they are in a European Cathedral."
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