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The hills are alive at a Coquitlam high school

Pinetree secondary takes on The Sound of Music.
Renee Fajardo as Maria in The Sound of Music.

Renee Fajardo grew up watching The Sound of Music.

It was her aunt’s favourite flick and the pair spent many nights cozying up in their home in the Philippines to see the adventures of the Von Trapp family and to hear the timeless songs by Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein.

So when the Grade 12 student was picked by Pinetree secondary theatre teacher Natalee Fera last fall to portray the star, Maria, Fajardo was eager to share the news with her aunt. 

“She was so excited,” the 17-year-old teen remembered of their phone call, adding, “I feel like I’ve been waiting my whole life for this.”

The musical, which runs at the Coquitlam secondary school from Feb. 2 to 4 and Feb. 9 to 11, features more than 35 young actors and just as many student musicians in the live orchestra, under the baton of Marcia and Chris Carmichael.

Fera said she selected the popular musical for her musical theatre and stage tech classes because “we hadn’t done a classic in while. Our last one was seven years ago with Oliver! and, to be honest, I really like working with younger kids and having our students mentor them.”

For the production, Fera recruited seven youth including a student from Scott Creek middle to play the character of Kurt Von Trapp.

Sofia Palma plays the eldest child, Liesl Von Trapp. For her role, the Honduras-born teen said she will imagine the courtship between her own mother and father as Liesl is wooed by Rolfe. 

“Their love is pure and endless,” Palma said of her parents who met in Germany more than two decades ago. “It’s an amazing love story.”

The choreography for the famous gazebo scene — to the song Sixteen Going on Seventeen — is simple and romantic, Palma said as she showed a few steps on the Pinetree stage last Friday. It portrays a girl being pushed into adulthood and breaking away from the family in which Maria now controls.

Sarvin Esmaeili also plays a pivotal role as Mother Abbess, the head of the Nonnberg Abbey. Besides tackling the song Climb Every Mountain, the 18-year-old alto singer has also taken on the role of musical director for the Pinetree production.

Esmaeili added harmonies and worked hard at rehearsals to perfect the vocals with the students, she said.

But while they are anxious about the upcoming show, a few actors also have other ambitions on their mind. 

On Feb. 14, Port Coquitlam resident Jamie Hoffman (Herr Zeller) will audition to be in Capilano University’s acting for stage and screen diploma program, which he hopes to start in September. 

Esmaeili also auditions for the program the following day while in March she has to show her chops for the National Theatre School in Montreal and with Studio 58 at Langara College. 

And, later this year, Fajardo will audition for Cap U and the Canadian College of Performing Arts, in Victoria.

“There’s a lot going on in our lives right now,” Hoffman said, “but I think we like that everything is happening at the same time. It makes it exciting.”

• Tickets to The Sound of Music are $12 through the school office (3000 Pinewood Ave., Coquitlam) or on show night, Feb. 2 to 4 and Feb. 9 to 11. The curtain rises at 7 p.m. On Thursday, Feb. 2, two students (with ID) get in for the price of one. And on Friday, Feb. 3, two kids get in free with every two adults tickets sold.