When Elena Reynolds takes to the stage as Maria in The Sound of Music it won’t be the first time she will have tackled the role.
Elena last took on the part in the the Rodgers and Hammerstein classic in a school production some 13 years ago.
But now she is returning to it in South Downe Musical Society’s latest production.
‘I last played her when I was 14,’ says Elena. ‘It was my first ever lead, in my first ever musical. It’s exciting to play her again.
‘I’d always loved drama, but that was my first ever show and I really fell in love with it from there.’
She went on to study musical theatre at college where she was taught by John-Paul McCrohon, who is directing this show for SDMS. The founder of CCADS was the winner of the Special Achievement prize at this year’s Guide Awards.
Elena has only recently returned to acting after a three year break post-university. And she threw herself back in at the deep end by auditioning for, and winning a part in CCADS’ 2018 production of Starlight Express – the train-based musical performed entirely on roller skates. From there she was in their production of Chitty, Chitty, Bang, Bang.
‘Then I found out they were doing Sound of Music at South Downe, I had never done a show with them before, so people were saying don’t expect to get a lead or Maria, but I got the part!’
Although Elena had played the part before, at school it was a shorter, junior version, so this isn’t quite the same. ‘There were bits I remembered and some of the songs – obviously I had to relearn them, but I was at least familiar with the show.
‘It’s totally different now. I came in with a completely fresh set of eyes because of that experience I’ve had through growing up and I can relate to the character on a higher level, you know, really dive into Maria, as opposed to when I was at school and just “playing the part”.
‘It’s been a really fun experience.’
It’s not only John-Paul who Elena knows from previous shows.
‘Jane Pegler, who's playing the Mother Abbess, she taught me singing at school, so it’s nice to get to act against her because she’s a familiar face – and with John-Paul as well – it’s nice to have that familiarity, but everyone has been lovely. This wil be my first time at Ferneham Hall as well, I’ve been at The Kings several times, but this is a first for me.’
So is Elena definitely back into acting? ‘Absolutely, it’s something I can’t leave, it’s my one true love.
‘And Maria’s been on my bucket list of characters to play as an adult, so it’s lovely to have the opportunity to do it.’
What is it that draws her so much to the character of Maria?
‘I love the fact that she’s such a free spirit and I love that she has childlike aspects with her – she’s always carrying that inner child.
‘No matter how hard she’s trying to be an adult, what she feels, and whatever anyone else thinks she should be, she just can’t do it because she can’t be anything other than true to herself. I love that about her, and I love that she has a slight naivety to her, and she’s been so protected and in a bubble. You get to see that journey of realisation and maturing and really stepping into her true happiness.’
THE SOUND OF MUSIC
Ferneham Hall, Fareham