Friday night I got to see one of my favorite musicals on stage at The Schuster Center, THE SOUND OF MUSIC.
This is one of those musicals that can either too dramatic that it feels like painful constipation or too sugary sweet that drives the audience into a diabetic coma.
This touring production is a perfect balance!
The stage version, starring Mary Martin, premiered in November 1959. The movie premiered, starring Julie Andrews, premiered in March 1964.
They are two different products.
Audience members could be heard during intermission asking why songs were misplaced throughout Act I and discussing the “new song” written for Elsa, Max, and The Captain.
The stage and movie productions differ musically from one another.
- “My Favorite Things” is sung by Mother Abbess and Maria before she heads off to the von Trapp villa
- “I Have Confidence” was written for the movie
- “The Lonely Goatherd” is sung in Maria’s bedroom during the storm and not an elaborate marionette production as in the movie
- On stage Elsa, Max and The Captain sing “How Can Love Survive?”
- The romantic trio between The Captain, Elsa and Maria is not often as prominent on stage as played in the movie; generally, on stage, the Captain seems to be falling in love with Maria but the true break-up with Elsa is politically motivated; this touring production gave the triangle a better nudge
- Originally, “An Ordinary Couple” was the post-proposal song between the Captain and Maria; the movie version included Richard Rodgers’ “Something Good;” this touring company kept “Something Good” but the lyrics were rewritten, and for me, worked far better than the 1965 movie lyrics!
- The post-wedding stage structure is similar to the more recognized movie version but is still just as intense and fast-paced
What I loved about this production:
THE SET: outstanding; the pieces moved along with the action creating a feeling of openness and traveling a bit; the final moment in the Nonnberg Abbey garden overlooking Salzburg is worth the admission, alone. Douglas W. Schmidt rocked it!
THE COSTUMES: nice
THE STAGING | CHOREOGRAPHY: beautiful! Matt Lenz and Jonathan Warren created some of the most creative, free and natural, and lovely stage-pictures I’ve ever seen for this musical
THE VON TRAPP CHILDREN: these seven are definitely some of my favorite things from the show; adorable!
NUNS & OTHERS: great
ROLF: Ahhh… how I still love this roll Chad Campbell, from Holland, Ohio, was charming enough that it was hard to despise him when he began “heiling” his way around the stage
ELSA: whoa! Melissa McKamie really put a new spin on some “Ice, Ice, Baby” moments!
MAX: I think everyone would want Jake Mills as their Uncle Max
MOTHER ABBESS: Lauren Kidwell’s portrayal was everything I wanted from any and every person to play this role; it was natural and Ms. Kidwell was definitely not like most portrayals that resemble the cold, stiff marble sculptures in the abbey; she is human; we were sitting in the top balcony of The Schuster but by the time she closed out “Climb Every Mountain” at the end of Act One, we found ourselves over in the Oregon District! Thank you, for beaming us up and out of the theatre, Lauren!
THE CAPTAIN: my first reaction upon seeing video snippets was that Mike McLean was far too youthful looking for Georg von Trapp, however, the first few notes he sang made me forget my purist snobbery; “Edelweiss” was the rosette on top of this performer’s exquisite cake!
MARIA: Jill-Christine Wiley was cute, precocious, gutsy when needed, and quite the spirited fraulein to lead us down the journey of this much-beloved time-treasured show; her energy, along with Lenz’s staging kept the entire production from stagnating in its typical slow-moments; I was delighted with her performance!
I was reluctant to see this tour production having seen a horrible one with Laura Benanti and Christopher Chamberlain in 1999. Memories of that production tend to tip me into a state of apoplexy. Richard Chamberlain was WAY too old for the role and the relationship between the Captain and Maria; it was like a great-grandfather pawing on a high school cheerleader kind of creepy.
All I can say to The Miami Valley: “Try your best to go see THE SOUND OF MUSIC at The Schuster Center before it ends its run here, Sunday evening. You will leave singing everything but the exit signs.”
Production photographs courtesy of the Victoria Theatre Association Facebook site.
Learn more about the history of THE SOUND OF MUSIC on Broadway, 1959 original stage production.