The Valdosta Daily Times
From the moment they march onto the stage and stand at attention, the von Trapp children performers have the audience’s support.
Initially, they have the audience’s backing because five of the seven Peach State Summer Theatre “Sound of Music” von Trapp youngsters are local children. As the show continues that early support becomes a deeper appreciation as these youngsters reveal a depth of singing, acting and comedic talents.
Following last weekend’s successful PSST! opening for “The Sound of Music,” The Times sat down with five of the von Trapp performers: Allie Smotherman, 14, plays Louisa; Nicholas Paoletti, 13, plays Kurt; Maggie Tarpley, 10, plays Brigitta; Elle Scruggs, 7, plays Marta; Sofia Paoletti, 6, plays Gretl. Also playing von Trapps are Michael McClain, a Valdosta State University Theatre & Dance student, as Fredrich, and Jennifer Maurer, a Florida State University musical theatre major, as Liesl.
The younger children are from the Valdosta area. They have performed in school and community children’s productions. Though selected from auditions early this year, these youngsters say their “Sound of Music” rehearsals began along with the adult castmembers about two weeks prior to the June 1 opening night. The five young performers say they were not nervous prior to opening night and have enjoyed the PSST! experience so far.
Different scenes are their favorites. Elle likes the pillow fight. Allie enjoys the songs performed by the nuns. Sofia’s favorite scene is when Maria returns. Maggie likes when Maria arrives and reveals she is great with children. They enjoyed signing a few autographs after the Sunday performance.
Each youngster brings different experiences to the show.
Allie Smotherman: The daughter of John and Lang Smotherman and sister to Briggs Smotherman, Allie is a rising ninth grader preparing to attend Valdosta High School next academic year. With the Valdosta Middle School Players’ production of “The Lottery,” Allie won best supporting actress in statewide competition for one-act plays and best actress statewide playing Edgar Allan Poe in VMS’ “Poe-Dunked.” She advanced to national competition playing Eve in “The Diary of Adam and Eve.” She plans to continue theatre as a Valdosta High School freshman.
Nicholas Paoletti: The son of Karl and Ronda Paoletti, and older brother to fellow castmember Sofia, Nicholas is a Valwood eighth grader. He has performed in Little Actors Theatre shows, including “The Big Bad Musical” and “Murder is in the Heir,” as well as “Gypsy” and “The Brothers Grimm Spectaculathon.” He studies piano, plays violin with the South Georgia String Project and played on the JV Valwood soccer team.
Maggie Tarpley: The daughter of Brad and Mary Clare Tarpley, Maggie moves from home school this coming academic year to being a fifth-grader at Westside Elementary School. She has performed in several Gingerbread Players of Theatre Guild Valdosta productions including her recent role as Ladybird in “James and the Giant Peach,” as well as roles in “Seussical: The Musical,” “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe,” “Pinocchio.” She has also had musical training through First United Methodist Church.
Elle Scruggs: The daughter of Mr. & Mrs. James Kenneth Scruggs Jr., she is a Valwood second-grader. At school, Elle is a member of Valwood Voices and a cheerleader mascot. She studies voice, dance and modeling. She has many interests from bike riding to crafting to cheering and baking cookies.
Sofia Paoletti: The daughter of Karl and Ronda Paoletti, and younger sister to fellow castmember Nicholas, Sofia is a Valwood first-grader. The show’s youngest cast member, “The Sound of Music” is her second stage role. She played a clown in her kindergarten class’ play last fall. She also sings, plays piano, and enjoys her cats.
PSST!’s “The Sound of Music” continues this weekend with performances scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Saturday, June 8, and 3 p.m. Sunday, June 9, Sawyer Theatre, Valdosta State University Fine Arts Building, corner of Oak and Brookwood. The show continues on various dates through July 14. Times, dates, ticket prices, more information: Visit www.valdosta.edu/psst Box office: Open 10 a.m.-5 p.m., call (229) 259-7770.