Here’s the problem with adaptations of books, movies or plays: when people love them and know every song or every line of the original, they go into the adaptation with expectations. I was sitting at the Light Rail station to head to the theater last night to see The Sound of Music. I got talking to a grandpa taking his granddaughter to see it too. He was telling me that she has seen the Julie Andrews movie a million times and knows the words to every song. “I hope it’s just like the movie, or she’ll be disappointed,” he said. I told him it probably wouldn’t be exactly the same and that, in fact, this was a new production with additional songs. He grumbled at that. I know how he feels though.
Just like with Beauty and the Beast, which we recently saw at the Buell as well, we feel protective of the characters, storyline, scenery and songs. It can be hard to look past that to see the show for what it is. Such is the case with The Sound of Music. The Rogers & Hammerstein music is there, plus a few additions that, frankly, felt unnecessary and just added to the 2 1/2 hour plus intermission showtime. Julie was there, I mean, Maria, played by Kerstin Anderson. (who kept reminding me of Kirsten Dunst). She had a beautiful voice and was a fine actress but she was clunkier than Julie Andrews who was just so graceful. At first her somewhat uncontained movements bothered me until I realized that was the perfect portrayal of her character. Maria was young and childlike herself and was a little lost within herself and the world. All of that would be rectified with a little time and a great honeymoon with Captain Georg played by Ben Davis (who kept reminding me of David Beckham). And now that I think about it, Dan Tracy, who played messenger boy Rolf, looked an awful lot like Aston Kutcher! (What is up with all those similarities?!)
The acting in this production was very good. The seven children, six of whom actually were kids, held their own, were talented and adorable. Elsa Schraeder (Teri Hansen) got the best costumes by far as the wealthy heiress briefly engaged to Georg. The sets were creative and impressive although the beautiful hills that are alive with music were a little too colorful and pastel to look believable. The Abbey’s scenery was great – somber but elegant. Large panels with a lacy design ran throughout the decor of the Abbey and of the van Trapp home. The most beautiful set was at the end in the Abbey garden with ornate gates and a twilight mountain and sky background. The most disturbing was during the music festival when silken red panels displaying the swastika were unveiled behind the singers. It was a dramatic reminder of what was happening at that time. And, in fact, there were a lot of common threads in the storyline that mimic the current political scene today – just sayin’.
The chemistry among the cast was strong but all revolving around Anderson who, through her enthusiasm and passion as an actress, made everything believable and drew the audience in. And when she and Davis kissed? Oooo baby, the temperature in that auditorium rose a few degrees!
Did you know that the story is basically true? The von Trapp family was real, did escape Austria, made their way to the U.S. where they toured as a singing group and created a musical camp in Vermont! Keep that in mind and focus less on the movie we’re all familiar with and just enjoy The Sound of Music which is only in town for a few days.
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