Watch: Vicksburg Theatre Guild set to perform ‘The Sound of Music’
Alaina Fordice was jumping around her house after learning she was chosen as the lead in the Vicksburg Theatre Guild’s upcoming production.
Fordice, who started performing on the VTG stage at the tender age of 6, has been cast as Maria Rainer in “The Sound of Music,” which will open Friday, Aug. 21 at the Parkside Playhouse Theatre, 101 Iowa Ave.
“I think the biggest thing for me was the feeling of accomplishment. I left Vicksburg for school having never really gotten anything other than ensemble roles and questioned if I was even any good,” Fordice said after being cast in one of the most iconic roles in theatre. “So coming back after a few years and the first major role I go for I land, I felt like it was all worth it and that I must have really grown.”
After being active in the VTG’s Fairytales Theatre, which is geared toward children and youth, and performing in a few of the theater’s main stage productions, Fordice took a break from acting. She returned in 2012 to perform as a member of the “West Side Story” ensemble.
In 2014, Fordice moved to San Diego, Calif., where she studied acting and film at John Paul the Great Catholic University. She just returned to Vicksburg after living in Alaska.
“The Sound of Music” is based on the 1949 memoir of Maria von Trapp, The Story of the Trapp Family Singers, and is set in Austria. The musical opened on Broadway in 1959 and the score was written by Richard Rodgers with lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II.
Fordice said her character, Maria, is very relatable.
“Her journey is about growing and learning to deal with and accept change,” Fordice said. At first, this really scares Maria but she has to learn to face the change and look for her life.”
One of the most challenging musical numbers in the show is “The Lonely Goatherd” and is also Fordice’s favorite.
“It is a lot of fun to do. I actually used it as my audition song because I knew it would be the hardest one for me to learn since I would need to learn to yodel,” she said.
Playing opposite Fordice in the role of Captain von Trapp is Noel Tello.
Like Fordice, this is Tello’s first time to have landed a lead role in a VTG production.
“In all the years I have been in Vicksburg Theatre Guild and Westside Theatre Foundation productions, this is my first leading role,” Tello said. “And I was excited and shocked to find out I had landed the role. VTG and the Vicksburg area itself is full of talent, thus the competition for parts in theater productions are difficult to get. Plus, I’m a late, middle-aged man and I really thought a younger fella would get it.”
Tello’s character, which is an Austro-Hungarian Navy submarine Captain, has recently become a widower. In his grief he has become a very rigid man, even using a boatswain’s whistle to summon his children. That is until Maria is sent to be the family’s new governess, after having trouble conforming to the lifestyle of a nun, and manages to reawaken the captain’s heart.
Tello said his favorite scene in the musical is when the nuns close out the show.
“Not because the show is over or anything, but I get to hear my sweet wife, Missy, who is also in the show, sing,” he said.
Dr. Paul Ballard, who is serving as the director of the production, said he has been “pleased” with the casting.
“There is so much talent,” Ballard said. “It has also been easy working with all those involved and there is good chemistry among the cast.”
This is the third time the VTG has offered “The Sound of Music” at the Parkside Playhouse Theatre and those involved behind the scenes this year include Jim Shirley, who is in charge of set design and construction, and his wife, Theresa, who has been in charge of costuming.
Aiding Jim Shirley with construction are Sarah Goss and her family with Chesley Lambiotte is the musical’s choreographer.
“The Sound of Music” will have a live orchestra with Dorothy Brasfield serving as the musical director.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Ballard said, the cast has adhered to state and federal health guidelines and has only held rehearsals with 10 or fewer cast members.
While there was some discussion to abandon the production due to the coronavirus, Ballard said cast members polled their Facebook friends and found there was enough support for the show to go on.
“Certainly my fears have been that we would be prevented from performing or that no audience would come to see the fruits of our hard work, but the response has been overwhelmingly positive,” he said. “I believe everyone yearns for some normalcy in life.”
“It has definitely been a different process with all the restrictions and rules, but I think the theater board, production team, and cast have done a good job of navigating how we can still pull this off safely for the cast and the audience,” Fordice said.
In adhering to health guidelines, audience members will be spaced apart and required to wear masks.
This worked well, Ballard said, during the theater’s recent performances of “Gold in the Hills” and “Moana.
Audience members are also encouraged to purchase their tickets early for the main stage production since the theatre will not be filled to full capacity because of the distancing requirements.
“The VTG board has made every effort to make the auditorium safe and that social distancing is maintained. But all of the supplies, work, and fees for rights to put on a production require the finances to be able to do so,” Tello said. So, while we run our shows at half capacity because of the COVID-19 outbreak, it’s even more important to attempt to sell our show out to that half capacity.”
Tello, whose entire family has performed in VTG productions, said his continued involvement has been due to the professionalism found.
“VTG productions are always carefully selected and the directors and supporting personnel are always on top of their game. And the entire VTG group has years of experience and is not afraid to put in long hours and hard work to get a truly polished and entertaining production, which translates into an awesome experience for our audiences,” he said.
“The Sound of Music” will be performed Aug. 21, 22, 27, 28 and 29 at 7:30 p.m. Shows on Aug. 23 and Aug. 30 will begin at 2 p.m. The costs of tickets are $20, or $15 for ages 65 and older and $10 for ages 12 and younger, and are available at www.showclix.com/events/10243.