One of the key ingredients of the growing up diet was a good dose of The Sound of Music. The film released at the Eros or Regal every four to five years before the advent of video. And it was mandatory to see it at least once whenever it was released. Therefore, it was mandatory to buy a ticket for the show, as soon as they announced that Broadway’s Sound of Music was going to perform in Mumbai at the Nita Mukesh Ambani Cultural Center; which I did and saw the show on the third day.
The performance begins with the humming and singing of the nuns of the abbey. Cut to Maria singing the title song – The hills are alive with the sound of music…
While the storyline of the play follows the original West End play and English film. The placings of the songs are different for quite a few. For example, Maria teaches the children Do Re Mi minute she meets them for the first time… and that appears to be misplaced, logically as well.
For the uninitiated, the play is based on the real-life story of Captain von Trapp, an Austrian naval captain, who refused to join Hitler’s forces, and his family. It is about his seven children from his first wife, his romance with their governess, his love for Austria and his escape from the Third Reich to Switzerland. It is also about a rebellious postulant (Maria) from an abbey who becomes the governess of Captain von Trapp’s children and marries him later. The other main characters include Captain’s former love interest Baroness Elsa Schreder (in the current play, she has been stripped of the title) and Captain’s bestie Max Detweiler.
The currently staged, Broadway version of The Sound of Music has Max and Elsa sing two songs. That’s one of the stage adaptations that I loved. Gail Bennett and Joshua la Force do perfect justice to the characters and to the songs that they sing. They have good voices and light feet that tap perfectly well to the songs.
Every artiste is a good performer and a singer. They have been carefully chosen to fit the roles and they enact their given roles superbly.
Trevor Martin, who plays Captain von Trapp, is a brilliant singer with a captivating voice. However, he fails to impress as a captain. Be it his short stature, or the fact that Christopher Plummer remains etched as the captain in our minds. Or the image our Indian Captain von Trapp, Dalip Tahil, who had given a dazzling performance as Captain von Trapp around two decades ago kind of keeps coming back.
Another reason could be that Martin’s co-star Jill-Christine Wiley, who plays Maria, is extremely talented and over-shadows him when it comes to acting skills. Wiley is a marvelous singer with a glorious voice that can enthrall the audiences. What takes her notches up is the ease on stage. She doesn’t act… she is the character.
Lauren Kidwell, the Reverend Mother, is a singer class apart. Her rendition of Climb every mountain… is par excellence, as is her performance as an actor.
What one really misses is the mischief by the children which is driving away all the governesses and how Maria counters that. The graph of the children’s characters is missing the play.
You come back with the voices of Maria and Reverend Mother, humming the songs that they sung.
Having said that, I would still say that go and experience the play. But don’t waste money on the first few rows on the ground floor. Enjoy the play from the first row of the Dress Circle, if you can get the tickets.
[Disclaimer: Notings here are personal reactions and are based on comparisons with the film like many from the audience. Also, please note that this is Broadway (American) troupe and not the West End (English).]