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lhs som HulbertKaren Johnson as Maria and Terry Howell as Captain Von Trapp in the 1992 LHS production of The Sound of Music. Photo by Karen Hulbert Schindler

Lansing will be alive with 'The Sound Of Music' next month, when Lansing high School actors will bring the 1965 classic to the Lansing Middle School auditorium stage. The iconic Rodgers & Hammerstein musical is based on the true story of the Von Trapp Family Singers, who escaped Austria and the Nazis during World War II.  Performances run from March 7th through 10th.

Lansing schools have a long and proud tradition of excellence in the performing arts – an important component of a well-rounded education. This excellence has even been recognized nationally, as Lansing Central School District was named among the NAMM Foundation's "Best Communities for Music Education" in both 2016 and 2017.

Perhaps the most time-honored of LCSD's many performing arts activities is the annual Lansing High School musical. Dating back more than 50 consecutive years, these productions have enabled countless students to be involved in high-quality productions as actors, stage crew members, lighting and sound technicians, and pit orchestra musicians. Another example of longevity: This year's production will also be Cynthia Howell's thirtieth in the director's role. Howell notes that a general best practice is to plan on one hour of rehearsal for every one minute of actual performance time. She has therefore put in literally thousands of hours of rehearsal time over the years – not including the innumerable hours of prep work in selecting and obtaining rights to the script, making casting decisions and logistical arrangements, and other necessary tasks.

This year's production will be The Sound of Music, among the best-loved musicals of all time and one that has not been performed at LHS since 1992, Howell's fourth year as director. Every production has its special circumstances and unique challenges, and that year's was no exception. Howell recalls that the Lansing Middle School production earlier in the school year had been Peter Pan, and that the wires that had allowed some characters to "fly" were still in place during the high school performances. This proved to be a problem when the abbey backdrop was raised between scenes and became tangled in the wires. Crew members had to climb up, disentangle the backdrop, and remove the wires during what proved to be an extra-long intermission. 

Some half-dozen members of the 1992 cast still live in the Tompkins County area, including Ami Stallone, who is now a 'cast mom' with two sons in this year's production. Stallone portrayed both Frau Schmidt the housekeeper and a nun. She and many fellow cast members with whom she is still in touch greatly enjoy reminiscing about their high school theatrical experiences.

"These were special times full of fond memories and wonderful friendships," she relates. "What I remember about being in musicals at Lansing is how proud I was to be a part of them regardless of my part. Mrs. Howell has always put on amazing plays and makes everyone involved feel vital to the success of the show, from the stage crew and extras to the lead characters."

Upcoming performances of The Sound of Music will be March 7th and 8th at 6:30 p.m. and March 9th and 10th at 7:30 p.m. at the Lansing Middle School auditorium.

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