To be fair, I'm probably not the best person to review a stage
version of "The Sound of Music."
I'm a bit of a fanatic when it comes to the movie, which I have
seen more times than I've keep track. I adore Julie Andrews -
between this and "Mary Poppins," she made being a governess look
like the world's best job. And I have frolicked through the park in
Salzburg, Austria where they filmed the "Do, Re, Mi" song, even
though I can't even remotely be described as a dancer.
So the stage version of the show - which actually came out six
years before the iconic movie - at Drury Lane had a lot to live up
to in my mind.
Fortunately, the charming production more than meets
Jennifer Blood gives a lovely performance as Maria, younger and
more naïve than Andrews' version, with a sharp wit that portrays
her difficulty fitting in at the Abbey. Larry Adams is sternly
handsome as Captain Von Trapp and bests Christopher Plummer with
his powerful singing voice.
The real scene-stealers, though, are the Von Trapp kids, from
sixteen-going-on-seventeen Leisl on down to adorable little Gretl.
Although some might think they lack the polish and poise of some
performers, the scenes featuring the children learning how to sing
and dance ring true to life with a lovable awkwardness I enjoyed.
"Do-Re-Mi," "The Lonely Goatherd" and "So Long, Farewell" all
received enthusiastic ovations from the audience.
The stage show is funnier than the movie, with some self-aware
winks to the audience, and a sly performance of "Sixteen Going on
Seventeen." The slower spots for kids are the usual suspects:
basically, any scene set in the Abbey. If you're looking for a
bathroom break before intermission, consider the "Morning
Hymn/Climb Ev'ry Mountain" sequence (my least favorite as a child),
or the wordless wedding scene in Act II.
One of the final scenes, set at the Kaltzberg Festival, does an
excellent job of drawing the audience into the action, although I
won't reveal any details.
True devotees to the movie will notice several changes to the
story. The show follows the original Rodgers & Hammerstein
structure, so it opens in the Abbey, not on the mountain.
Crowd-pleaser "My Favorite Things" is performed earlier in the show
and by Maria and the Mother Abbess (a strong-voiced Patti
Cohenour), rather than during the thunderstorm scene (where you'll
hear "The Lonely Goatherd").
Plus there are two additional numbers, "How Can Love Survive?"
and "No Way to Stop It," both featuring the characters of Elsa
Schraeder and Max Detweiler. The second song puts more emphasis on
the Captain's struggle with the Nazi regime coming to power in
Austria and could be a good conversation-starter with older
children about whether it's good to "go with the flow" and if you
should look out for yourself first and foremost.
The show runs about 3 hours with intermission, so if your kids
have an early bedtime, consider the afternoon shows, rather than
the 8:30 showtime on Friday and Saturday nights.
But whatever time you see it, this delightful production will
have you humming, singing, dancing all the way home - even if, like
me, you consider the movie version of "The Sound of Music" the gold
Elizabeth Diffin is the associate editor at Chicago Parent. She lives in Wheaton.
See more of Elizabeth's stories here.
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