Archive for the ‘The Sound of Music’ Tag


It began at Thanksgiving time with starting to memorize the Latin words for the many lovely chants and songs offered by the nun’s chorus. The music for the nun’s quartet was easier — in English.

It went on with weeks filled with rehearsals, of which there were even a couple of cancellations because the weather was so bad — even for Minnesota! Mostly, though, the show had to go on no matter how bad the storm and the cold.

It was over with the final performance on Sunday, March 2, 2014.

So here for you to see — some photos of the people involved.

First, the nun’s chorus, against the backdrop of the elegant set.

alternate header

And the children’s chorus. I’ve been told they hated to see it end, having become a very close “family.”

Von Trapp children

And Edelweiss. Many year’s ago when my son in Junior High performed the role of the Captain, my father “cried three handkerchiefs worth.” I understand people in this audience teared up too. The song is so touching for people who have left their homelands behind, and even for those who haven’t.

EdelweissSister Berthe, Mother Abbess, and Sister Margaretta

Srs. Berta & Margaretta, Mother Abbess.Version 2

The Nun’s Quartet in action, discussing Maria’s suitability for the Abbey.


Sister Margaretta and Sister Berthe, with a little slice of Mother Abbess on the side

Sister Margaretta & Sister Bertha

And then the finale in rehearsal

Nun's Chofus, finale


“THE SOUND OF MUSIC” SET   8 comments

Things are getting back to order bit by bit here after the time from Thanksgiving until last weekend was dedicated mostly to preparation for “The Sound of Music.” It was really well received. Some people came a second time because they enjoyed it so much the first time. We had sold out houses and nearly-sold-out houses, with praises still coming in.

Yesterday,  in a whole different vein, I did a presentation on “The Function of Punishment” at the Community Center. Today is busy with other stuff. Tomorrow I can’t postpone it any longer — I have to pull together my income tax information. But now I want to share some photos of the set. I promise photos of the nuns, etc., will follow.

Here’s the whole thing, constructed in the sanctuary of Mount Calvary Lutheran Church in Excelsior. That’s why you see the stained glass windows in the background, basically incorporated into Doug’s set. (Remember you can enlarge the photo by clicking on it.)



Turn the Gazebo around and light the photo of the interior of the Salzburg Cathedral above and you have the abbey where Sisters Margaretta, Sophia, and Berte hang out with the Mother Abbess. (I’ll have photos of them in a later blog.)



Turn the altar around again and you have the gazebo in the garden with a shot of the Salzburg alps in the background.


photo 3


And finally the bedroom side of the set.




A day at home. It’s amazing how much has piled up — e-mails, projects, stuff.

I did have one client scheduled to come today, but she postponed because the roads are still so dangerous. Can you imagine? Since last Thursday afternoon. It’s the cold, cold, cold ….. cold. And piled up snow, snow, snow ….  snow, and ice, ice, ice …. ice.

Bur all is warm and cozy at home as the sun shines in bright through the southern windows, warming my house and giving the thermostat a rest.

We’ll be back doing the show on Friday and Saturday evenings and Sunday matinee, then strike the set and enjoy the aftermath.

I’d like to show you a photo of the set which Doug designed, but the best I can do for the moment is include a few photos of the model. Photos of the real thing will come later.

photo 3


photo 2


photo 1


Hooray! Last night’s performance went very well, with laughs, some tears, and applause where one would hope for it. Today’s matinee performance is sold out (400 seats).  But there is next weekend.

I just hope I don’t stumble in the dark like I did last night. Here’s the deal. It’s dark when the nun’s quartet gets in place for their scene. Sister Margaretta starts out facing the “altar” in prayer. Well, proving what I’ve known since I was a kid who couldn’t learn to skate, I am clumsy. Yup! I stumbled on the edge of the platform holding the altar. To prevent my fall, I grabbed the altar, knocking down the bible placed there. Fortunately I didn’t knock over the whole thing, and I didn’t fall down. Anyway, I picked up the Bible, kissed it, and placed it back on the altar. In truth, no one would know I had done it if I didn’t tell them.

Today it’s Matinee at 3:00 p.m. and a cast party afterward. Cast parties usually happen after striking the set after the last performance, but the director and others decided to have the party today in light of the fact that so many of our players are young and need their sleep on school nights.

And what a sensation those young players are! Wish you could see them



Posted February 23, 2014 by Mona Gustafson Affinito in Uncategorized

Tagged with


Whew! Last night’s anxiety was reduced with the musical warm-ups we did, and then the production went well. Of course, as actors, we didn’t get to watch the whole thing as we hid out in what I suppose would be called the green room if we were on TV – just a big room with lots of tables and our stuff. The best evidence was the applause at the end — it sounded and looked genuinely enthusiastic. More important personally, I know our nun’s quartet was well received. Since we have become a team, we did correct for a few of each other’s oversights, so no one knew the difference. Tonight I’m sure we’ll all be on target. And we did get laughs where we hoped for them.

So, now that I’m a little more relaxed — and enjoying it more — I’d like to make a comment about the show itself. More than an interesting musical story, “The Sound of Music” is a commentary on the early stages of the spread of the Nazi terror. Focused on the Austrian Anschluss, the issues apply to the whole period.

As a student, I was in Europe shortly after the end of WWII. I saw the devastation in England, Germany, and Austria as well as some of the other countries. Neither the attackers nor the defenders were ultimately spared.

I had a few dates in the rubble. I remember one night, for example, sitting with a G.I. on a pile of cement junk that had once been a building in Munich. There were other occasions when it was clear our local dates wanted marriage as a passport to the United States. (Those were the days when flying over the Netherlands pilots saw “Thanks, Yanks” spelled out in Tulips.)

What I remember even more is one of our German student guides saying, “This will come to your country someday.” I confess to having been watchful ever since. It’s the little things that whittle away at  one’s consciousness until, like Pastor Martin Niemoeller one can only say:

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out–
Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out–
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out–
Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me–and there was no one left to speak for me.

I have carried two lessons with me from that student’s and Niemoellor’s  warning. (1) what happens to other people is important, because ultimately it comes home to me; and (2) be watchful – developments both bad and good happen in little increments. It’s like the frog who doesn’t do anything to escape from the boiling water because he is unaware of the gradual, seemingly unimportant changes in temperature.

So what does this have to do with the “Sound of Music?” The serious part of the message portrays three possible attitudes toward change. There is (1) Captain vonTrapp who sees the danger and refuses to go along with it; (2) Rolf Gruber and others who willingly join the Nazi cause; and (3) Max Detweiler who chooses not to choose but rather to go with the flow.

I want not to be Max Detweiler and, in the end, get caught by surprise. I want to avoid being in a situation where I’d need the courage of Captain vonTrapp, because I’m not sure I’m capable. And I certainly don’t want to contribute, either consciously or by neglect. to the development of the prejudice, cruelty, and violence purposely displayed by the Nazi regime.

SCARIEST OF All: I loved all the people we met in Germany and Austria. They were people like me. Not evil, not deliberately cruel or destructive. I can only conclude that many were the Max Detweiler’s of the time.

Well, so much for the serious side of a really fun production.

I hope good reports will continue,and eventually some photos.


CRAZY BUSY WEEK (OR TWO)   8 comments

Apologies to all my blogger friends. I’ll not be responding much for the next two weeks — rehearsals scheduled every night until opening night on Friday. Then performances — and more rehearsals next week. (I guess my performance should be pretty acceptable by the last show on March 2.)

Apologies as well to Facebook Friends, friends of 60 years (more or less), family, and anyone else to whom I should be responding. Life should get back to its usual normal in March. Maybe even the weather will have settled down. Wouldn’t that be nice?

I’m including again a copy of the brochure.

brochure SOM.


Posted February 17, 2014 by Mona Gustafson Affinito in Uncategorized

Tagged with


So this is where my time is going, plus all the time it takes to “dress warm” in this wild climate.

Well, actually this isn’t all that’s keeping me busy. I’m still working at “selling” Mrs. Job, whose working title is now “Pomegranates and Special Cheeses.” And then there’s “My Father’s House” which is going to need major repair once rehearsals are done and I can get back down to it.

Oh, and the daily emergencies — computer problems, plumbing problems, and whatever surprises arise each day.

Besides, there are all the wonderful blog friends whom I have pretty much neglected comment-wise, but I have been keeping track of all of you. I’m in touch, even if you don’t know it.

If you are in the neighborhood, come see me doing whatever I end up doing as Sister Margaretta. Who knows, I might even get it all right and add sparkle as well. I guarantee the directors are very talented. And the set! Amazing ..

brochure SOM



Hi all!

I don’t have any great wisdom to impart, or challenges to offer, or prizes to give. I just want to check in so you won’t forget me out there in the blogosphere. 

The heading? Well, as I said recently, I’m focusing this month on finding ways to get Mrs. Job published and marketed. I’m checking out self-publishing — again (now that my contract with iUniverse is broken) — and the possibilities of aid with marketing if I choose that route. Obviously I haven’t been very successful on my own.

I’ve also submitted a query letter to an agent who looks right for the book and I’ve paid money toWriter’s Digest for an evaluation of that letter. It will be weeks before I hear their opinion. I’ve sent the manuscript to Beaver’s Pond Press for an estimate of cost for publishing with them. I’ve consulted a marketer who is looking into her contacts to see if there might be someone who specializes in working with authors. And I’m considering “Create Space.”

In consultation with my MFA sister, I’ve decided on the new working title: Pomegranates and Special Cheeses.  Perhaps with a colon addition: A Biblical Love Story. If you’ve read Mrs. Job you may recognize this as a description of their young love, mentioned a few times in the text.

It goes without saying that the book needs a different cover — more appealing if one should see it sitting on a bookstore shelf.

In the meantime, it’s taking a lot of time to learn the music (to be done a cappella) for the nun’s chorus in “The Sound of Music.” Mark Abelsen, the director, is, I’m happy to say, a stickler for perfection. Scary, but should produce a really great result. As for Sister Margaretta, I think I’ve got her part down, except when I panic on stage.

And then there’s winter in Minnesota, though I’m happy to say we seem to be past the extreme deep freeze that had my fingers numb in no time when I went outside. 

The part that bugs me most, perhaps, is that I can’t get to “My Father’s House.” I’ve thought about it, and I think the word really is “can’t.” I just can’t postpone the work on “The Sound of Music,” and I’ve committed myself to working this month on Mrs. Job — oops! Pomegranates and Special Cheeses.

I would be very happy to receive comments — on the potential title, or possible marketers, or to share cold weather stories, or anything else I’ve said here — or just to let me know you’re still willing to bother with me in spite of my frequent absences.

I have received e-mail responses to my latest blog, encouraging me to keep pushing for Mrs. Job’s publication, making really nice comments about the book. Such things are good to hear.

PLEASE BEAR WITH ME   10 comments

This is addressed especially to my fellow bloggers, but it’s intended for everybody. Basically, I have to curtail my activities somewhere, so I’ll be starting here.

Why curtail my activities? Well, here are a few reasons. Winter has hit — and hit hard. Which means it takes much longer to dress to go outdoors. Seriously, zippers, buttons, warm hat, mittens. Oh, alright. That’s not such a big deal.

But then there’s shoveling. Yes, the complex does get professionally plowed when there are two inches, but the added inch and a half just stays on the driveway and sidewalk unless I remove them. I’ve been pretty good about the sidewalk for folks who come for appointments. Not so great on the driveway – fingers and toes get too cold too fast.

Then there’s practicing to be Sister Margareta in “The Sound of Music.” Fun, but takes time, especially keeping me out later at night than I like in the cold dark winter. Speaking of which, I look forward to December 21 – the winter solstice — when light returns gradually to our days. Would that I were rich! I’d have a retreat in Virginia for the winter — still some seasons, but not so bad.

Then there’s the business of trying to get Mrs. Job republished with a new name and cover.

And preparing for Christmas. I’ll bet lot’s of us are in this together!

Mostly, perhaps, it’s realizing that I’ve taken on a long-term project in the plan to write “My Father’s House.” I expect to be around at least 20 more years, but that’s no excuse for putting off the research and writing needed to get it done. Somehow nothing happens if I just lie in bed thinking up good ideas.

And, of course, I do still see clients. What a pleasure! I don’t ever want to stop my practice.

So, please, bear with me if I slack off on the blogging. Or maybe just keep it quick and simple.


Finally I’ve spent time on Minnesota’s north shore and it was beautiful to look at and relaxing to enjoy. Doug and I arrived at Cove Point on the day before Thanksgiving, staying in a Fjord Cottage a short walk from the main lodge. (I’m writing this a week later while snowed in in Chaska. Glad we went the week before.)

The drive there from Excelsior was clear and beautiful, but shortly after we arrived it began to snow, creating our first of the year winter wonderland. Inside the unit it was warm and cozy with the gas fireplace.


For dinner we took a short walk through the snow covered path to the dining room at the lodge where the menu gave great satisfaction to my Swedish heritage appetite. I ended up with a first course of herring salad and a stuffed portobello mushroom for the main meal. They very kindly substituted quinoa for the gluten free rotini. And for desert they gave me what I asked for — a scoop of vanilla with lingonberries. It was all good!

Doug enjoyed tomato basil soup and crumb crust walleye -crushed pretzels, mustard, wild rice pilaf and green beans. For desert he chose the root beer float they were offering free at the bar.

See what I mean? It was relaxing – no rushing off to “see the sights.” Later, back at the unit, Doug began the project of teaching me cribbage on a hand carved board in the shape of a fish. Just one of the toys provided.

Thanksgiving morning I awoke to the sight of a lovely sunrise over the lake.


and the lake waters greeting the snow covered rocks on shore.

Lake Superior

We made our own thanksgiving dinner in the kitchen beautifully supplied with everything necessary. I’m not including the photo of our cooked chicken, even though it was beautiful in “person,” because the photo had something equivalent to red eye, except it was red crust. Looked weird.

The rest of the day was a hanging-out day except for a brief walk to the lodge, a quick swim in the pool, and a soak in the whirlpool. Then more cribbage. Whew. And seconds on the pumpkin pie.

We did go see some sights the next day. First it was the Split Rock lighthouse – a beautiful structure, in use from 1909 t0 1964, or was it 1946? Oh well, Here it is.

Split Rock LIghthouse

We couldn’t see the inside because it’s only open in the summer months, but we did see a brief film of the crashes that brought about its being built in the first place. And we got a sense of what life was like for the keeper and his family.

Later, on our way to Gooseberry Park we got a glimpse of it again through the trees.

Lighthouse thru trees

Then it was on to Gooseberry Park where I did get a photo of the frozen falls. Actually there was some small amount of water still running, but not a lot.

Gooseberry Falls

I was particularly taken with what seemed like a tree that nature had decorated for Christmas.

Gooseberry Park Xmas tree

And then another relaxed evening at the unit.

On our way home from Cove Point we stopped in Duluth to visit the Glensheen mansion. Here are a few quick photos. First, the entry.

Glensheen entry

And the dining room.

Glensheen Dining Room


Plus a lovely tiled fireplace.

Glensheen fireplace


and one of the rooms.

Glensheen Mansion Duluth


As you can see,it was decorated for Christmas. Referring to a guest who had visited from Radcliffe, there were costumed guides at several points on the self-guided tour to elucidate what the guest would have seen, and what delight she took in being there.

I loved seeing it, but I wouldn’t want to live there. I guess because if I did, I imagined cleaning it all myself. But they had servants, and very pleasant servant’s quarters.

And so, I’m back to work today — more fun rehearsals for “The Sound of Music,” gift wrapping, trying to keep up with e-mail, friends, and clients, and telling myself each day that I’ll get back to work on selling “Mrs. Job” and writing “My Father’s House.” A snow day does help.


%d bloggers like this: