The Fabulous Fox is alive with The Sound of Music and “my heart wants to sing every song it hears!”
The Fabulous Fox is alive with The Sound of Music and “my heart wants to sing every song it hears!” The last of Richard Rodgers’ and Oscar Hammerstein II’s musical masterpieces, The Sound of Music debuted on stage six years before the beloved film adaptation hit the big screen in 1965 and snagged five Academy Awards. It’s based on main character Maria Von Trapp’s memoir, The Story of the Trapp Family Singers. In the film—which has truly been adored by several generations—Julie Andrews dazzles in the lead role, and to many fans, she simply IS Maria, just as Judy Garland will forever be Dorothy in the eyes of Wizard of Oz fans. This makes it difficult and often unsatisfying to see another actress in the role, as we all learned when country music superstar Carrie Underwood took a stab at portraying the character for a live television version in December 2013. Although I can’t vouch for Underwood’s rendition, I can for Kerstin Anderson’s. Regardless of whether you’re willing to love another Maria going into this show, Anderson will steal your heart by the end of act one. Just as the character is described in the song “Maria,” Anderson is a moonbeam in this production.
As the show opens, the audience first encounters the nuns of the Nonnberg Abbey where Maria resides, and by scene two joins Maria who is singing the show’s namesake classic, “The Sound of Music” on the hills near the monastery. Maria is trying her best to be a woman after God’s own heart, but she struggles to abide by the abbey’s rules not because she’s intentionally disobedient, rather because she’s simply a free spirit. Recognizing her struggles with the monastic lifestyle, The Mother Abbess (Melody Betts) dismisses Maria from the abbey to fill a temporary position as a governess for the seven children of Austro-Hungarian Navy Submarine Captain Georg von Trapp (Ben Davis) who runs his home by whistle. Just as Maria’s personality didn’t mesh quite well with the expectations of the abbey, it clashes with the way the captain’s home is structured as well. However, Maria wasn’t afraid to color outside the lines at the abbey, and wouldn’t shy away from doing so here (which is truly the beauty of her smiley, energetic, and observant character). Again, she’s insubordinate in the most innocent and refreshing way. She makes an impression on the children immediately, teaching them to sing, and eventually wins over the captain as well. In addition to the conflict that arises within Maria about her feelings toward the captain, the additional conflict of this production lies in the political arena of the period—the rise and spread of Hitler’s Third-Reich.
The only aspect of this production that was less satisfying than the film, for obvious limitations, is the set. Various scenes from the film were captured in beautiful places abroad that no lovely backdrop of the hills can compare to. That point aside, there’s not one other element of this show that isn’t worthy of praise! Every cast member would make proud those who have been cast in the roles before them—Andersen especially—but this is also such a strong collection of performers that the tour very much stands on its own, apart from the film. This Von Trapp family is just as charming as ever and the deep love the characters have for one another radiates from the stage. (Spoiler alert: There are a few kisses shared over the duration of the show, one of which couldn’t have been steamier! There was truly no shortage of believable emotion here.)
The children more than deserve to be recognized by name, so here it goes: Liesel (Paige Silvester), Gretl (Audrey Bennett), Marta (Mackenzie Currie), Kurt (Quinn Erickson), Brigitta (Svea Elizabeth Johnson), Louisa (Maria Suzanne Knasel), and Friedrich (Jeremy Michael Lanuti) did a wonderful job! Although they sang “So Long, Farewell” so beautifully, I wasn’t ready to bid them or the show itself goodnight as it came to close! | Megan Washausen
The Sound of Music runs at The Fox through May 8. For ticket information, visit http://www.fabulousfox.com/.