It's hard to find someone who doesn't know the story of Captain Georg von Trapp and Maria or someone who can't sing along with "The Sound of Music."
Therein lies the challenge.
As Steamboat Springs High School students rehearsed songs they already knew and characters they had seen time and again on-screen, director Stuart Handloff encouraged them to guard against creating a two-dimensional play.
"The characters are pretty straightforward," Handloff said. "There isn't a lot of hidden meaning in this play. It's pure entertainment.
"In that respect, it has been a great experience working on a play that everyone knows. But there is a temptation to fall back on the movie roles."
To get the actors to really think about the characters and the story, instead of regurgitating what they knew by heart, Handloff asked them to analyze the relationships between the characters.
"There's a stereotype that's right there of who these characters are, but I asked them to really read the words in the songs to understand them more deeply," Handloff said. In one rehearsal, the students were asked to explore the complexities of the relationship between Rolf and Liesel or to question the personality of the Mother Abbess.
"We know the Mother Abbess is calm and powerful, but why?" Handloff said. "It's because she is at home in the church. The church gives her that calm.
"It's about going beneath the surface. What's Maria like? Why do she and the Captain get together? Why does he kick her out and then bring her back?"
As a way of communicating new layers to characters the audience already knows, Handloff focused on movement.
"Not just with dancing," he said. "It was about realizing how these characters moved and how they react to others.
"They already knew the words, but they had to show us, not just tell us."
To get into character as Captain von Trapp, junior Darren Koehler focused on his posture. He began each rehearsal by walking across the stage with his spine rigid.
"I watched my posture at all times," Koehler said. "The Captain has the highest status (of the characters on stage) and his posture needed to communicate that."
To develop his character, Koehler read through the script line by line to find references to the Captain's personality. Most important, he didn't watch the movie.
"He has a lot of layers," Koehler said. "He's a little harder at the beginning, but he begins to soften up at the end."
Koehler is a veteran of the stage in Steamboat. He played Jack in last fall's production of "Into the Woods." He played Mary Sunshine in Perry-Mansfield's production of "Chicago" and played Mr. in "Sunday in the Park with George."
"I'm sure he will do this professionally," Handloff said.
Koehler's experience was a cornerstone for the beginning of a new era in the high school theater department.
"I lost a lot of seniors last year. I lost four seniors who could have put on a show by themselves," Handloff said. "This was a rebuilding year."
It was a time to give students like senior Kaitlin Gallagher her first part in a play.
Gallagher plays the Mother Abbess.
"I love to sing, but I've never done any acting," Gallagher said. "I was so scared to be on stage with people who are really good, like Holly (Dye) and Darren.
"I'm still learning. For me, the hardest part is remembering to always be in character even when you aren't saying a line."
The Mother Abbess' struggle comes when she has to send away someone she cares about -- Maria, played by senior Holly Dye.
Handloff said he chose Dye to play Maria because of her voice. Dye has performed in every musical staged during her high school career. This is her sixth show.
"I love being the center of attention as someone else," Dye said. "Maria is semi-uncomfortable with herself. She thinks that she wants to be a nun, but she is confused and doesn't know what path to take.
"I'm used to that feeling. I'm choosing a college right now, and I'm unsure of what to do."
The challenge for Dye was playing a character that is the opposite of her own personality.
"She is really outgoing. There is no subtleness about her. She speaks before she thinks," Dye said. "But I am quiet. I'm a people pleaser."
To get into character she does jumping jacks backstage to raise her energy level.
Dye also tried to get close to the kids who are playing the youngest von Trapp children.
"I tried to bond with them so that the chemistry is real on stage," she said.