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WB students head to the hills for “Sound of Music”

There is perhaps no more iconic scene in a musical than Maria walking across a mountaintop in Austria at the start of “The Sound of Music.”

The hills were indeed alive to the sound of music in this final collaboration between Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein, which became one of the most important stage productions and films in history.

The stage performance debuted in November 1959 and won five Tony Awards. A 1965 film version starring Julie Andrews won five Oscars.

This week, West Branch High School will tackle the story which deals with Maria’s decision to pursue a romantic relationship with the widowed father of seven children and the family’s decision to escape the Nazis who seek to control Austria. Shows are at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 3 p.m. Sunday.

As the curtain goes up, cast and crew will be led by Krista McClarren Clay, who took over as West Branch productions director from John Zamarelli, who retired after 30 years and more than 70 productions. Clay, a 1999 West Branch graduate, has also appeared in productions directed by Zamarelli. She has taught vocal music at West Branch since 2008.

“It’s such an honor to be able to carry on the tradition that Mr. Zamarelli started here at West Branch,” said Clay. “I have been so blessed to have him as a mentor for most of my life and career, and I am truly grateful to always have him by my side every step of the way. He was gracious and so throughout this transition, and I look forward to continuing the strong program he has built over the past 28 years.

The Zamarellis remain a force in the school theater, however.

Senior Jillian Zamarelli, daughter of John and Jennifer Zamarelli, will play Maria. In the other female lead, Mother Abbess, is Jillian’s twin sister, Julia Zamarelli.

Kyle Hoopes, the eldest son of Kevin and Michele Hoopes, has the command role of Captain Georg von Trapp. Hoopes’ brother, Owen, has the role of von Trapp’s butler, Franz.

The cast includes the adorable von Trapp children who sing in perfect harmony.

Liesl, the eldest of the von Trapp children, will be played by senior Maddie Davis, the daughter of Scott and Marcy Davis. His love, Rolf Gruber, will be played by junior Croesus Brock.

Shy Friedrich von Trapp will be played by freshman Peter Blanchard, son of Matt and Rebecca Blanchard. Silly Louisa von Trapp is played by second grade Haley Close, daughter of Scott and Sarah Close. Eighth graders Camdyn Schatz, daughter of Sally and Bonnie Schatz, and Alli Kanagy, daughter of David and Mikki Kanagy, will play Brigitta von Trapp and Marta von Trapp, respectively. The final two von Trapps, Kurt and Gretl, are played by real-life siblings Ashton and Sutton Clay, son and daughter of Corey and Krista Clay.

The eccentric Uncle Max will be played by the eldest, Landon Reichenbach. Senior Kiersten Hofmann will play the extravagant Elsa Schraeder.

The roles of Sister Berthe, Sister Margaretta, and Sister Sophia bring the song “Maria” to the stage, with junior Morgan Brown, junior Ella Scofinsky, and second Kate Slutz serving as novices.

The antagonists Herr Zeller and Admiral von Schreiber will be played by Christian Mikol and Devin McKean respectively. Ally Hartzell will play Frau Schmidt, the von Trapps maid.

Rounding out the cast, a choir plays everything from nuns to socialite attendees to Nazi soldiers. The choir includes Alaina Schluneker, Sophia Ayers, Ariana Aldridge, Cami Reichenbach, Charity Glista, Ava Parris, Michaela Smith, Klary McKay, Neely Gruver, Brooklyn Horner, Mollie McDorman, Carley Riesen, Mackenna Jarjabka, Gavin Clay, Gage Firestone, Owen Hoopes , Christian Mikol, Parker Derry, Mason Brown, Devin McKean, Logan Crutchley and Luke Dyke.

The show’s technical directors are Victor Trimmer and Corey Clay, assisted by stage manager Lacey Phillis. The technical team will use 30 wireless microphones and all the special effects.

Tickets for all shows will be available at the high school during the school day or by calling the box office at 330-938-2183, Ext. 37358. Leave a message and a parent will call you back. Tickets can also be purchased at All seats are reserved and priced at $12 for adults and $10 for students and seniors. All customers are encouraged to come to school and choose their own seats as soon as possible, as tickets sell out quickly.

Contact Krista Clay with any questions at [email protected] or 330-206-5611.

Jillian Zamarelli, bottom, is Maria, and her twin sister, Julia Zamarelli, top, is the Mother Abbess in the West Branch High School production "The sound of music."
Landon Reichenbach, as Max in the West Branch High School production of "the sound of music," plays a scene with senior Kiersten Hofmann, as the extravagant Elsa Schraeder, and Kyle Hoopes, center, as Captain Von Trapp.