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Students bring 'The Sound of Music' to Bellevue

Cary Ashby • Apr 6, 2018 at 12:08 AM

BELLEVUE — Ashlyn Smythe is fulfilling a childhood fantasy by playing Maria in “The Sound of Music.”

“I’m so grateful for the experience. To play this role is a blessing,” she said.

As the lyric goes, “the hills are alive with the sound of music.” The Bellevue High School cast will perform the musical at 7 p.m. tonight and Saturday plus at 3 p.m. Sunday at Bellevue Elementary School. Tickets are $6 for students and senior citizens and $8 for adults.

“This is my favorite musical. I’ve dreamed of being Maria since I was little,” said Smythe, the 18-year-old daughter of Trent Smythe and Alexis Dorobek.

Senior Richard Tobey II is playing Captain Von Trapp, who falls in love with Maria, a nun-in-training who works as the governess for his seven children.

Off the stage, Tobey and Ashlyn Smythe have been best friends for several years. Tobey joked that playing the love interest to Smythe was “rough at first, but we got past it.”

Smythe said there was some uneasiness when, as Maria, she had to kiss Tobey’s Von Trapp for the first time in rehearsal.

“He’s like the grass and I’m the sky,” added Smythe, unintentionally suggesting differences also between their characters. “Both are beautiful in different ways.”

At one point the nearly 30-member Bellevue cast was rehearsing two musicals simultaneously.

“We were in the middle of rehearsing for ‘The Hunchback of Notre Dame,’ where we got to perform … at state. We were rehearsing two shows at the same time. It definitely was difficult at times to have (to) focus at the beginning of ‘The Sound of Music’ while rehearsing both,” director Angie Sommers said.

‘So once ‘Hunchback’ was over, all the actors got serious and became dedicated and gave everything they could to their characters for ‘The Sound of Music.’ I definitely feel like they have shown all their hard work has paid off.”

Last year, Tobey portrayed Prince Charming in “Cinderella.” He said that experience taught him several things he has used onstage as Von Trapp — ballroom dancing, how to stand straight and “how to be in love with someone on stage.”

“Which is rough sometimes,” added the 17-year-old son of Rick and Leah.

As he rehearsed for “The Sound of Music,” one of the teenager’s challenges was learning to play a bosun whistle, which Van Trapp uses to get his children and house servants to respond.

“There are really only two pitches,” said Tobey, who has to exactly place his pinky on the holes to play the whistle appropriately.

Portraying Maria has come with a bit of personal sacrifice for Smythe. A trained thespian might say that the teenager’s willingness to listen strictly to classical music and tunes from the World War II era, when “The Sound of Music” is set, lately is close to Method acting.

“I haven’t listened to country music in eight weeks,” Smythe said. “That’s my go-to.”

Being a natural alto, the teenager has faced the challenge of singing in her upper register as Maria.

“I had to widen my range to sing this,” she said, noting she could sing a soprano part beforehand, “but it wasn’t pretty.”

Smythe’s vocal range has expanded by about an octave-and-a-half. During rehearsals, she had to learn to relax and breathe properly as she sang.

“I had a large range to start with,” she said. “Now it’s close to four octaves.”

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