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The Hills Are Alive with a Unique “Sound of Music”

Captain von Trapp, Rolf Gruber (the young Austrian telegram boy) and every other male role in this iconic musical are portrayed by females.
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November 29, 2023

This production of “The Sound of Music” is likely to be a one-of-a-kind experience. Captain von Trapp, Rolf Gruber (the young Austrian telegram boy) and every other male role in this iconic musical are portrayed by females.

Behind this distinctive production is the Jewish Women Repertory Company (JWRC), founded in 2005 by Margy Horowitz and Linda Freedman. Their aim was to provide Jewish women with an opportunity to sing, dance, and perform exclusively for an all-female audience. Many of the women in the theatrical show are religious women adhering to Orthodox practices, prohibiting them from singing in front of men or engaging in physical contact, depending on their religious observance level. 

Typically featuring adult women, this particular production involves several kids, mainly playing the seven von Trapp children. Participants include girls from Jewish schools such as Yula, Hillel, Shalhevet, Pressman Academy, and Maimonides Academy, along with a few mothers.

Director Horowitz, also the performing arts director at Yula high school and a piano teacher, highlighted performers like Karen Holender, who plays Maria and has children in Yula high school and Maimonides, and Lisa Gruenbaum, who portrays Captain von Trapp and has children in Shalhevet and Hillel. The harmonies and beloved songs, including “My Favorite Things” and “The Sound of Music,” will make you want to sing along with the incredible talents on stage, led by music director Reyna Zack.

While the majority of participants are Jewish, some are not and join for feminist reasons. All participants, including the director, volunteer their time, coming together for rehearsals from various parts of the city and valley at the Nate Holden Performing Arts Center on Washington Blvd. Rehearsals began at the end of August, initially meeting twice a week, and later increasing to three times a week in November.

The theater, with 400 seats, hopes to fill every one for the four planned shows on November 30 and December 2-3. Despite the desire to do more shows, the cost of renting the venue at $30,000 per week limits the possibilities. Participants are expected to bring ads to the Playbill, and with community donations, the production company manages to break even. Putting together such a production on a tight budget, including beautiful costumes, stage sets and music, is a costly endeavor.

“This is my 17th show,” proudly declared Horowitz. “None of us is getting paid; we do it because we have so much fun. I love that it helps the community come together—women of all types, different religious backgrounds and personalities, married and single alike. We just love putting on a show and seeing how much people enjoy it.”

Tickets are still available at jwrcla.org/tickets.

Who can attend? Women and children (boys up to 10 years old).

Tickets are still available at jwrcla.org/tickets.

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