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Sure, the music is the thing in "The Sound of Music," but the Rodgers and Hammerstein classic has a way of surfacing the latent gardener in some directors. Many are tempted to simply plant their performers onstage and bid them sing.

It's clear that Max Wojtanowicz is mindful of the inertia inherent in this approach, even as he, too, seeks to intensify the focus on such numbers as "Edelweiss," "Climb Ev'ry Mountain," and "My Favorite Things."

In his production of "Sound" that opened over the weekend at Bloomington's Artistry theater — a show that marks the directorial debut of an actor who was mesmerizing in "Art" at the Guthrie Theater — Wojtanowicz gives the elegant production a propulsive verve.

He also finds a balance between being too spare on the one hand and cluttering the staging with theatrical froufrou. Set designer Katie Phillips' smart drops and simple furniture pieces gesture toward the various locales in the story about an Austrian family's flight to freedom as Nazis take over their country. Costume designer Nat Koch-Smith has nattily attired the cast, all sharply lit by Karin Olson.

The orchestra, led by Raymond Berg, lays down a bed of music that veers from playful to agitated, fright to sweeping romance. In this setting, in which the onstage orchestra becomes the mountain to be climbed, Wojtanowicz's singer-actors breathe new life into the songs.

Sheena Janson Kelley imbues Maria, the frumpy postulant-turned-smitten governess of Capt. Georg von Trapp's super-cute stairstep children, with both authenticity and dewy sweetness. It's hard for actors playing Maria not to have Julie Andrews, who defined the role, playing in their heads. But Janson Kelley evacuates Andrews long enough to put her own spin on the title song plus "My Favorite Things" and "Do-Re-Mi."

Rodolfo Nieto's Von Trapp is every bit the remote naval iceman we expect him to be, but his world gets slowly warmed by Maria when he sees the joy that she is able to bring out in his children. Nieto's "Edelweiss" is brief but loaded with emotion.

As Mother Abbess, Susan Hofflander makes the metaphorical peaks vibrate with her powerhouse vocals on "Climb Ev'ry Mountain."

The cast, choreographed by Gabrielle Dominique, is riddled with new and newish talent, including dance captain Kiko Laureano, whose roles include Sister Margaretta, Phinehas Bynum as ultra slick amoral promoter Max Dettweiler and Junia Morrow as Liesl.

Back to the staging for a minute. Wojtanowicz has come up with a series of trippy pratfalls to serve as metaphors for several characters' emotional states. Early on, a nervous Maria stubs her toe as she gives in to her wanderlust and flouts the abbey rules. Her tripping changes meaning for her in different circumstances.

Later in "Sound," other people's feet get caught up on things to represent authenticity. That's true for both the captain, as he starts to acknowledge his true feelings for Maria, and for his fiancée, Elsa (Stephanie Cousins), as she comes to realize that her planned business marriage to him will not work.

It's a clever injection of physical comedy that's not too little or not too much. And the balance underscores how the songs in "Sound" flow trippingly off the tongue, even as the show elicits laughs with telltale feet that play matchy-matchy.

'The Sound of Music'

Who: Composed by Richard Rodgers, lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein and book by Howard Lindsay and Russel Crouse. Directed by Max Wojtanowicz.

When: 7:30 p.m. Thu.-Fri., 2 & 7:30 p.m. Sat., 2 p.m. Sun. Ends May 12.

Where: Artistry, 1800 W. Old Shakopee Road, Bloomington.

Tickets: $26-$56. 952-563-8575 or

Correction: Kiko Laureano's name was misspelled in previous versions of this story.