It’s easy to describe The Sound of Music as one of the world’s best-loved stage productions. However, even that honorific doesn’t quite do this timeless piece of musical theatre justice. Be honest: Is there another score out there that makes you want to fling your arms out wide and spin in a circle like Julie Andrews twirling across the Alps? Probably not.
Well, get ready for an all-singing, all-dancing trip down memory lane. Theatre impresario Pieter Toerien is bringing this Tony Award-winning show to life at Joburg’s The Teatro at Montecasino in April, and Cape Town’s Artscape Theatre in May.
The original stage show opened on Broadway in 1959, and enjoyed a three-year run of 1 443 performances in total. This iteration of the popular musical is Andrew Lloyd Webber’s 2006 London revival, which was seen by a record-breaking two million people over the course of 954 performances at the London Palladium. It debuted in South Africa in 2014 to rave reviews (‘a nostalgia trip you’ll never want to end,’ said Business Day) and is back by popular demand. The production is being mounted in South Africa in collaboration with British producer David Ian and The Really Useful Group, an international entertainment company that brings to life the work of Andrew Lloyd Webber across the globe.
The all-South African cast is lead by Carmen Pretorius (High School Musical, Jersey Boys) as Maria and Andre Schwartz (Jesus Christ Superstar, Phantom of the Opera, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat) in the role of Captain von Trapp. Together, they’ll delight audiences with fan favourites including ‘Do-Re-Mi’, ‘Climb Ev’ry Mountain’, ‘Edelweiss’ and ‘Favourite Things’.
Not familiar with the plot? The Sound of Music is actually based on The Story of the Trapp Family Singers, a memoir published in 1949 by the real Maria von Trapp. Although the musical differs in some details from its source material, the main plot points are the same – and yet are almost too theatrical to be believed. Settle in for a tale of innocence, love, adventure, war and bravery…
It’s 1938. In the show’s opening scene we meet Maria, a young Austrian woman preparing to become a nun in Salzburg. Maria’s many minor misdemeanours, and her love of the outdoors and music, have made her something of a lovable nuisance at the abbey (and inspire the lyric ‘How do you solve a problem like Maria?’ in the nuns’ group number, ‘Maria’). The head of the abbey suggests to Maria that she get a feel for life outside of the church before taking her vows, and sends her to be a governess in the home of retired naval officer Captain von Trapp.
Here, she meets the seven Von Trapp children: Liesl, Kurt, Friedrich, Louisa, Brigitta, Gretl and Marta. Their navy father has been raising them with militant discipline since their mother’s death, but Maria introduces a little love, imagination and joyful singing into their regimented lives. Needless to say, Maria and the captain butt heads in the way many characters do when they’re destined to fall in love by the third act. However, before things can become too idyllic, the Second World War breaks out and Von Trapp receives a summons to fill a position in the German Navy. Will he respond to the call of duty, despite his anti-Nazi sentiments and his burgeoning feelings for Maria?
You’ll have to watch the show to find out.