Review: The Sound of Music at the Tivoli

5 years ago Triangle 0

Written by: Samantha Burgess, Campus Editor

Rodgers and Hammerstein’s travelling production of the Sound of Music retells the story of Maria and the von Trapp family. The story is loosely based on the true story of Maria Kutschera and the von Trapp family. It starts with Maria leaving her sheltered life at the Nonnberg Abbey to be the governess of seven children. Maria’s free spirit and love of music challenges Captain von Trapp’s tight schedule over the children. Austria also faces the Nazi regime as they threaten invasion. The Captain and Maria are forced to decide where priorities lie, whether with the war, family or their love life. Will Maria and the von Trapps come together during these dark times?

The cast of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s production includes Jill-Christine Wiley as Maria, Mike McLean as Captain Georg von Trapp and Lauren Kidwell as Mother Abbess. Wiley has performed regionally and nationally and recently starred as Belle in a production of Beauty and the Beast. She was also in productions like The Little Mermaid (Ariel), The Fantasticks (Luisa), and Little Women (Beth). McLean played a role in national productions of Guys and Dolls (Benny) and Saturday Night Fever (Frank Jr.). Kidwell performed in productions of Ragtime (Mother) and Jesus Christ Superstar (Mary Magdalene).

Rodgers and Hammerstein’s production of the Sound of Music features staple songs such as “My Favorite Things,” “Do-Re-Mi” and “Climb Ev’ry Mountain” but it deviates from the movie. For example, in the movie Maria sings Do-Re-Mi as a way to comfort the children during a thunderstorm. In the production, Maria sings the song in one of the first scenes as Mother Abbess asks Maria to sing it for her. Maria and the children sing The Lonely Goatherd during the storm. Contrasting the movie scene where they sing it during a puppet show for Captain von Trapp, Max and Elsa. The production also features songs not in the film entitled “How Can Love Survive? and “No Way To Stop It.”

The entire cast played their roles well and lived up to the original. Wiley has a fresh take on embodying Maria which captures the charm and innocence of the character. It’s easy to fall in love with the von Trapp family all over again as you see Wiley’s Maria interact with McLean’s Captain and the children. Kelsie Ward makes Liesl look impressionable but fiery and Chad P. Campbell’s Rolf is more loveable than the original (particularly because he doesn’t give the family up at the end). Katie Grgecic’s version of Brigitta has more dimension as we see she is perceptive and intelligent for her age. I also found an attachment to Kidwell’s Mother Abbess which I didn’t during the film.

The scenic designer chose the backdrops well. The only thing that took away from the storyline for me was the lack of the puppet show and the gazebo. It’s understandable that you can’t show every scene on stage and it is still easy to follow along.

The music is also done very well. I was particularly moved near the end when the von Trapp family performs at the concert in front of the Nazi flags. The cast portrays the pain of the family as they prepare to leave their homeland in fear of the threats of the Nazi’s. Kidwell’s Mother Abbess steals the show as she ends with an emotional “Finale Ultimo” that features “Climb Ev’ry Mountain.”

The production also focuses on two of the major themes from the original Sound of Music. The first from the popular song “Climb Ev’ry Mountain.” The other being a famous quote from the movie, “When the Lord closes a door, somewhere He opens a window.” Maria faces new challenges as she learns how to teach the children and what it means to live in the “real world.” She overcomes this mountain with her faith and love of music. Maria also experiences love for the first time with the Captain and runs back to the Abbey in fear. But Mother Abbess teaches her to “Climb Ev’ry Mountain” by facing her problems head on. Maria then goes back to the von Trapp family and shortly after marries the Captain. As the Nazi’s power grows stronger, the von Trapps have to climb another “mountain”, quite literally, as they escape to Switzerland. When things seem hopeless, God opens a “window” for both Maria and the von Trapps as they face many obstacles.

Timeline of the real Maria and von Trapp family:

  • 1926

Maria Augusta Kutschera comes to the Von Trapp family to tutor one child, also named Maria, as she recovers from Scarlet fever.

  • Nov. 26, 1927

Maria marries Baron Georg von Trapp.

  • 1936

Maria forms the Trapp Family Singers and they win first place in the Salzburg Music Festival.

  • June 1938

The von Trapps flee from Nazi-invading Austria by train and start a concert tour through Europe.

  • 1939

The Von Trapp family immigrates to the United States and settle in Merion, Pennsylvania.

  • 1942

Von Trapps move to Stowe, Vermont and buy a farm on top of Luce Hill (reminded them of Austria).

  • 1945

Family opens the Trapp Music Camp.

  • 1947

Baron Georg von Trapp dies.

  • 1950

The Trapp Family Lodge opens to guests.

  • 1956

The Trapp Family Singer’s final concert is performed in the U.S.

  • 1959

Rogers and Hammerstein’s musical The Sound of Music opens on Broadway.

  • 1965

The Sound of Music film is released.

  • March 28, 1987

Maria dies and is buried at the Trapp Family Lodge in the family cemetery.

Samantha Burgess is a sophomore majoring in communication with an emphasis in digital media and is an assistant editor for the Triangle.