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Emmitsburg HS Class of '66

Ruth 0. Richards

Originally published in the Emmitsburg Dispatch
Republished in the Emmitsburg News-Journal

Thirty-five years ago this month, on April 22nd, 1966 Broadway came to Emmitsburg, bringing with it Rogers and Hammerstein’s The Sound of Music. Who would have thought or even dreamed that Emmitsburg High School could produce a Broadway show, one so well-known and so popular?

Who had this dream? Bob Holmes, a junior high school core teacher, believed that it could be done and he directed it. Gary Smith, the band teacher at Emmitsburg and Frederick High Schools, directed the band, which was made up of students from Frederick High School. Anne Deatherage directed the singing and Susan Sander was the art director.

The cast included nearly all of the members of the senior class and the children were all from the Emmitsburg Elementary School.

A senior class play was traditionally a light-hearted comedy-romance, directed by Mrs. Jones. No one ever believed that a Broadway success could be produced in Emmitsburg. Moreover, The Sound of Music succeeded—succeeded over and above all expectations.

You all know the story—The setting is Austria, 1938. Captain Georg Von Trapp needs a governess for his motherless children. After the children reject several governesses, the Captain applies to a nearby convent. Maria—a young novice–is sent to him, and the story proceeds from there.

Maria is adored by the children, plays with them, goes boating with them, and teaches them her favorite songs. Eventually the Nazis come to the mountain village, and the Captain, wanting to protect his children from the Nazis, decides they must go to America.

The story develops around the beautiful songs, songs from which most of us can sing a refrain or two. Favorites are the theme song, "The Sound of Music," "Do-Re-Mi," "My Favorite Things." The play ends with "Edelweiss" as Maria and the children are spirited away from their Alpine village to begin their new life in America.

The Emmitsburg school production was acclaimed by the whole community. Everyone loved it. Everyone got into the spirit of it. I remember that when the play arrived at the spot where Maria felt she should leave the Von Trapp family because she had fallen in love with the Captain, as she walked off the stage carrying her suitcase, someone behind me whimpered, "Oh ——— oh ——— she’s a leaving!" I felt as if I ought to turn around and tell her that Maria would be back.

The musical played two nights in Emmitsburg. The auditorium was filled to over-flowing both nights. Both nights cameras were flashing as the parents of the cast tried to get their own children as they appeared in every scene. One father was lying on his stomach in the middle of the aisle to get his best shot.

A few weeks after the second Emmitsburg performance the whole play was taken to Frederick–cast, props—everything, to a performance at the North Frederick Elementary School. Did all of Frederick attend? The Board of Education did. Some Frederick residents did, but the greatest number in the audience were the parents and friends from Emmitsburg. They just couldn’t get enough of it. It was Emmitsburg at its finest.

Not long ago Linda Keilholtz Umbel said to me, "The Sound of Music was the best thing that ever happened to Emmitsburg." I believe she was right.

Read other articles by Ruth Richards

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