When Briarwood Academy students last year asked Kari Callaway, the school's music director, if they could perform The Sound of Music, she replied, "Absolutely not." She had seen it so much on television with Julie Andrews in the starring role. But the more Callaway thought about it, the more she was attracted to it.
"I realized I had a lot of young talent," Callaway said. "I wanted to groom the younger ones. I fell in love with it again."
Briarwood performed Rodgers and Hammerstein's musical 12 or 13 years ago, Callaway said.
"You recycle them," she said. "Every three or four years, that's too soon."
The cast of 55 Briarwood students will perform The Sound of Music at 7 p.m. today and Friday. Tickets are $10 in advance and $12 at the door.
The Sound of Music marks Callaway's third musical at Briarwood. She majored in music performance at Presbyterian College and Kennesaw State before graduating in print journalism from Georgia State. For five years before taking the position at Briarwood, she directed the children's choir and two musicals a year at First Baptist Church in Washington, Ga. Callaway's daughter, Grace, plays Brigitta, one of the von Trapp children, while her other daughter, India, is a stagehand.
Senior Maria Celeste Johnson plays the lead role of Maria Rainer, a novice nun prone to mischief who becomes a governess to seven children.
"I guess I get to be somebody else for a while," Johnson said about her interest in theater.
Johnson also had the lead roles in Briarwood's last two productions, Ariel in Footloose and Rosie in Bye Bye Birdie. In the fall, she played softball and was the point guard on the basketball team that posted a 20-win season. Accepted at Georgia Southern, Johnson plans to major in communications.
Senior Matt McHatton plays Captain Georg von Trapp, the widowed father of the seven children. McHatton is performing in his first production, but he placed fourth in boys solo at the state meet of the Georgia Independent Schools Association. He jumps back and forth between baseball and rehearsals.
Callaway said she has received tremendous support from parents, Dawn Powell and Jim Wright on set design.
"She (Dawn) is fabulous about getting the props," Johnson said. "She buys the lumber and saws and hammers."
Frances Dyson has worked with costumes. Costumes were rented from the Dress Up Box in Watkinsville. Callaway normally works with Costumes by Michelle in Augusta, but a fire at the owner's home closed the business, Callaway said.
The 2-and-a-half hour production will be performed in the gymnasium, allowing for scene creativity. Some scenes are set up on the gym floor.
"We'll have a couple of great rehearsals and then a really bad one; I don't know why," Callaway said. "It's a rollercoaster."
She said the cast will be ready by opening. "It gives them exposure," she said. "It teaches them about surviving and life skills."