This article was published in the Lenoir News-Topic.

They made their way up to the stage, one by one.

Over two nights, about 75 people auditioned for “The Sound of Music” in Hudson, ranging from hip-height kids to retirement-age adults to entire families of auditioners.

Some just sang – songs from “The Phantom of the Opera” and “Fiddler on the Roof” and, of course, “The Sound of Music” itself. Lines about raindrops on roses and needles pulling thread and that old native of the Alps, the edelweiss, drifted across the stage.Some singers dipped into baritones and basses, and others inched up to the top of the scale. Some stood still as they sang; others added theatrical gestures and embellishments.

Before they climbed the stairs to the stage, they fidgeted on green, padded chairs in the Hudson Uptown Building auditorium. All had scrawled onto audition forms their names, ages, where they were from, and whether they would be willing to help backstage.

Copies of the script were stacked on a folding table. Chords floated through the air, keyed into existence by an accompanist who could play “anything but the 89th key,” director Keith Smith joked.

Belting a tune in a quiet room came with nervousness – at least for some. (Simon Hawkins, 10, said he wasn’t nervous at all. Raven Surgeon, 10, said she felt scared as she mounted the steps to the stage, then ready to sing as soon as she got started.)

But when shoulders tensed and hands wrung onstage, Smith lobbed jokes in the actors’ direction from his perch facing the stage. To an actor scrolling through the lines of “If I Were a Rich Man” on his iPhone, he asked, “Why ask God to be rich? He gave you a smartphone!”

And after every audition, the whole room clapped.

Each auditioner was there for different reasons. Isabella Hawkins, 6, said she “likes to be on TV” – and onstage, too. Reileigh Brown, 14, wants to go to Julliard when she graduates and wants all the experience she can get.

Zoe Shaw, 12, showed up because she loves “The Sound of Music.” She got in trouble as a young kid and, instead of handing over the Gameboy, her grandmother plopped her down in front of the classic musical and told her to watch. It’s been one of her favorites ever since.

Zoe auditioned using “Rock the Dragon,” from the Japanese animated series “Dragon Ball Z.” She likes to surprise people, she said.

When the original auditions were done, and “Sixteen Going on Seventeen” had been trilled at least a half-dozen times, they all clicked back across the polished floors of the HUB to the stage.

And, nervous or not, they read from the script, on the stage and under the fluorescent lights.