Hilton Head Island is alive with the sound of music

Special to Lowcountry CurrentNovember 3, 2011 

  • WHEN: 7:30 p.m. tonight; 2 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday

  • WHERE: Hilton Head Island High School's Visual and Performing Arts Center, 80 Wilborn Road, Hilton Head Island

  • • COST: $20 for adults, $10 for students, $15 for seniors (60 and older) for matinee shows. Group rates (15 or more) are available by calling Sally Cardamone at 843- 304-6280.

    • DETAILS: www.hhprep.org

The hills are alive at Hilton Head Preparatory School.

At least on stage, as the school presents "The Sound of Music," the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical with timeless appeal to audiences of all ages.

The production is being directed by Benjamin Wolfe, and is one he considers a step in a different direction. Wolfe also directed "Grease," "Little Shop of Horrors" and "Footloose," since joining the school's staff three years ago.

"Our previous shows have not included lower school students and I felt like at holiday time, this is a perfect show to get the whole community into the holiday spirit," Wolfe said. "It's just a good family show that brings everybody together and I felt like it was time for that."

The cast of 30 includes students as young as fifth grade -- six who are performing in their first school production -- to seniors. Of the nine seniors, most began acting in the past two years.

Alexandra Kenneweg and Billy Best, both juniors, are no strangers to high school productions. Alexandra takes on the lead role of Maria, and Billy plays the lead male Captain Georg von Trapp.

Alexandra also starred as Audrey and Billy played the dentist in "Little Shop." Best also was cast as Willard in "Footloose." Both said playing memorable characters in the school's latest production has its challenges.

"It's a lot to take on, especially at my age," said Alexandra, who is 17. "I'm portraying someone who is so much older than me, but she's so youthful, I think that's what's been the most challenging part."

Billy added it took some adjusting to switch from acting in modern comedy musicals to a Broadway and film classic set in Austria in the 1930s.

"We've been doing sort of jukebox-y stuff until this, but it kind of grows on you," he said. "It's kind of interesting to be playing a serious character now. I've never really played a serious role before and Captain von Trapp is very serious."

One of the show's highlights is the performances of the nuns, Wolfe said. The group is made up of 14 high school girls, each given the responsibility of singing in Latin in four-part harmony.

Hannah Simpson, a ninth-grader, plays Mother Abbess. Hannah has been involved in the performing arts throughout her years at Prep. As a seventh-grader, she was cast as Sandy in "Grease." Since then, Hannah has had major roles in "Little Shop" and "Footloose."

The orchestra is represented by 22 musicians, made up of teachers, volunteers and students from all across Hilton Head Island. The entire production is being run by student stage manager, Kelsey Izzillo.


Although no one listed raindrops on roses or whiskers on kittens as their favorite things, the seven Hilton Head Preparatory School students starring as the von Trapp children in "The Sound of Music" have no shortage of things that get the thumbs up. Here are some of their favorite things:

Helen Cardamone Liesl von Trapp; Junior

  • Special K cereal, Christmas, singing in the shower

  • Taylor Calamari Friedrich von Trapp; Junior

  • Running, hanging out with friends, being a taxi driver for four siblings

  • Ava NixonLouisa von Trapp; Sixth grade

  • Sleeping in, chicken and dumplings, Scrabble with my family

  • Keegan Crotty Kurt von Trapp; Fifth grade

  • Theme parks, movies, holidays

  • Isabella Hasset Brigitta von Trapp; Fifth grade.

  • Horses, my cat (Eloise)

  • Julia Gigante Marta von Trapp; Fifth grade

  • Saturdays, Nutella, foggy mornings

  • Adria Steves Gretl von Trapp; Fifth grade

  • Cupcakes, puppies, rainy days
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