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Seton cast members discuss school’s 25th musical

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Catie Moore, who plays Mother Abbess in “The Sound of Music” at Seton School in Manassas, shares her perspective on the production.

At the beginning of the show, it is dark and silent. Slowly, a single voice fills the air with a haunting verse. Forty nuns, lit only by candlelight, walk on stage singing in elegant harmony. The effect created by darkness, then candlelight, then the joyous harmony of the multitude is profoundly reverent. 

This opening inspires the production of “The Sound of Music” at Seton. Unlike the cinema production, the musical is accented by liturgical music. 

“The sacred music is important to us, in the play and in our lives,” said junior Caitlin Orr, who plays Sister Anna. “Sacred chant gives the musical a prayerful beginning, which lifts up the whole performance to God,” she said.

“We who portray nuns plan to meet in Seton’s chapel before each dress rehearsal and performance to dedicate the entire show and each song to Our Lord.” 

I am excited to be Mother Abbess and to sing our songs for Christ. The harmonies at every practice fill the room and send shivers down my spine. 

The nuns finish their procession, still in the aura of candlelight. The last notes of “amen” swell, then are silent. The nuns blow out their candles, and are gone, leaving the audience in the glow of a transcendent mystery. 

Ruth Hartung, who plays Unnamed Nun in the production, shares her perspective.

The curtain opens on the silver anniversary edition of Seton’s musical performance, and “Fiddler on the Roof” begins. You realize you are experiencing what the audience heard 25 years ago from a stage that is now a storage space for textbooks. 

But wait. Isn’t this year’s musical “The Sound of Music?”

Yes, but Seton has planned something special for this anniversary edition. Many might find it unusual that the 25th anniversary play is not the first musical Seton performed, but instead the second. 

Seton’s first production of “The Sound of Music” was directed by Maryan Lee. This year, her son, John Paul Vander Woude, plays the male lead, Captain Von Trapp. Just as there were seven children in the Von Trapp family, there are seven children in the Vander Woude family. And though it was Maria who came out of a convent and married the Captain, it was Dan Vander Woude who had been in the seminary, who returned to Seton and eventually married Lee.

I have a connection to “Fiddler.” Fran Buser and Chrissie Terza were the leads. They began dating after the musical and married. They are my aunt and uncle. 

I have 14 brothers and sisters, so I feel right at home being one of 40 nuns in my convent family. Being in the 25th edition of Seton musicals makes me part of both a school and a family tradition. Ah, tradition. Seton’s musical is alive with it.  

Find out more

Performances will be April 21-22 at 6:30 p.m., April 23 at 2:30 p.m. and April 28-29 at 6:30 p.m. Seton School, 9314 Maple St., Manassas, setonschool.net or 703/368-3220.


© Arlington Catholic Herald 2017