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VISD to captivate with 'The Sound of Music'

By Gabriella Canales
Jan. 10, 2017 at 10:48 p.m.

Cast members of "The Sound of Music" perform a dress rehearsal at Victoria Fine Arts Center.

Cast members of "The Sound of Music" perform a dress rehearsal at Victoria Fine Arts Center.

The fortissimo of "Do-Re-Mi" has kept the halls in the Victoria school district alive with the sound of music.

Victoria will finally hear the dynamic tune Friday when its student production debuts.

"This is stress week" said Mary McMichael, musical director.

The Victoria Fine Arts Center on Monday hummed with the crescendos of actors lively rehearsing lines and the decrescendos of backstage whispers as the velvet curtain opened on dress rehearsal.

Singing and non-singing roles will involve students across the district from kindergarten to 12th grade.

Victoria East High School senior Skylar Jones was a surprise addition to the play whose performance impressed judges at auditions, said McMichael.

"I had not known her before now," she said. "She is an orchestra child."

The 17-year-old viola and violin player Skylar said this is her first opportunity to pursue a more challenging role.

In the "Sound of Music," she is playing Maria Reiner.

"I enjoy any scene with the seven kids," Skylar said. "That's when the energy is the highest, and I can be Maria. That is where she's comfortable."

Skylar connects to Maria in a few ways, she said.

"She's not sure what she wants out of life and can be hesitant," she said. "The story is of her finding out what she really wants."

On stage, Skylar channels her inner camp counselor to make sure her seven cast members know where they are supposed to be at all times, she said.

Playing the part of Maria will benefit Skylar's plans to attend the University of Texas to study film.

"For writing, it has helped getting to do a character study of Maria and how she reacts to challenges and with the other characters," she said.

When the stage lights signal her cue Friday, songs and lines will be running through her mind, Skylar said.

"I will be surrounded by the most amazing people and will not have a chance to hesitate," she said.

As VISD prepared for opening night, last minute touches were being finished.

About 170 students practiced four times a week since Labor Day in different groups to rehearse their roles, to build sets and to work on other production aspects.

Sitting on the stage floor painting a black swastika onto a red flag for the concert scene was Victoria West High School senior Michael Morales.

"It feels nice to be at this point," Morales, 17, said. "It shows how our hard work after many months has come together."

Among the student created set pieces is a staircase that became the largest piece of equipment built by the group, said Kathy Montgomery, Victoria West theater teacher.

"The process is all student oriented," Montgomery said. "The four of us in our leadership positions have let the students take responsibility."

Involving students and teacher volunteers from across the district and the community builds relationships, McMichael said.

This is the first year that a single campus has led the districtwide production, said Ken Peach, VISD's director of fine arts. Victoria West is leading the production this year.

"I'm proud of the teachers who are doing this out of a love of arts and the Victoria community," Peach said.

The next musical will be led by Victoria East, he said.

As the curtain rises on opening night, it will be a memorable experience, McMichael said.

"The caliber of our students is second to none," she said. "It has been a pleasure and joy to be the director."


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