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Review of The Sound of Music 2015 National Tour

I was first exposed to this show through the movie and the motion picture soundtrack, so in my mind,
Maria Rainer = Julie Andrews. So, I was coming in to the experience a little skeptical (I refused to watch
Sound of Music Live because I didnt want to see it ruinedsorry Laura Benanti, Audra McDonald,
and Christian Borle. Im sure you all were wonderful!). Therefore, when I decided to take myself to see
the December 16th performance at the Tennessee Theatre, I reminded myself to keep an open mind and try
not to cringe too much at all the modernization and contemporary additions. (Im really picky. In my
mind, if I dont hear Doe, a deah, a female deah, then its too contemporary. )
What follows is a brief discussion of the stream of consciousness I was trying to write down in the dark.
Ive seen several productions and just recently played for a high school production of The Sound of Music
last year, so I was familiar with the layout of the show, but some people who have ONLY seen the movie
will have a hard time adjusting to the differences from the movie. For example, Maria sings Do Re Mi
right away after meeting the children instead of on the beautiful hillside on their adventure day. My
Favorite Things is not originally sung with the children during the thunderstorm, but with Mother
Abbess in the abbey before Maria leaves. Lonely Goatherd takes the place of the thunderstorm song in
the stage production. Speaking of Goatherd, I didnt care for the relaxed tempo. Im not sure if this
choice was to understand the words and help with enunciation, but it no longer felt like a light, carefree,
yodeling piece. I feel like they pronounced every word, which made it sound like Oh, OH, Lady oh dl
lay oh instead of a drinking song-esque oh ho ladeeohdellayoh. Yes, theyre singing the right lyrics,
but thats like a Tevye who sings Daidle deedle daidle Digguh digguh deedle daidle dumyes, those
are the exact lyrics written, but if you do that, you sound like someone chanting, instead of like a Jewish
milkman dancing and singing to himself.
Moving on. As we know, two songs were written for the movie: I Have Confidence and Something
Good. The production licensing company now offers supplemental orchestrations in case you want to
add these two songs (Something Good replaces the less than stellar An Ordinary Couple, sung by
Georg and Maria). This production chose not to include I Have Confidence, but they did use
Something Good, in place of An Ordinary Couple. Good decision. Plus, they changed some of the
lyrics to Something Good, which I thought was an interesting choice.
Ashley Brown was splendid as the Mother Abbess. Her vocal placement is flawless. She brought a note
of Julie Andrews refined sophistication to the role (maybe a relic of her days playing Mary Poppins on
Broadway and the tour). Normally, I cant STAND Climb Evry Mountain and think its cruel
punishment to put it right before intermission. But, in this case, I was quite content to listen/watch.
In an interview, Kerstin Anderson said that the role of Maria was going to be more tomboy-ish in this
rendition, and she certainly was. She was quirky, gawky, and fun. At times I had to fight off comparing
her to the sophisticated confidence of Julie Andrews, but for the most part, I thought she was fine. Her
voice was good. For a college sophomore, I was impressed. At times, she almost seemed younger/more
vivacious than Liesl (whichshe WAS. Shes a college sophomore, and Liesl has graduated), which
made it a little strange when Georg falls for her. I was grateful in Act II that they gave her a new wig and
more adult clothes. I appreciated how organic she was. For the most part, everything seemed to be a new
thought and idea that she was JUST coming up with. For example, I appreciated that she showed the

process of trying to come up with the words to Do Re Mi instead of just magically knowing all of these
witty phrases.
Does anyone else find it a little jarring when Frau Schraeder leaves, and then 5 minutes later, boom.
Rebound. The Captain is proposing to Maria. And the whole When you were a very little girl, did a
very little boy ever kiss you? Come on. A seasoned naval Captain would NOT say that. Blech.
Not impressed with RolfI always enjoyed the innocent little romance between Rolf and Liesl. Hes
supposed to be a young guy delivering telegrams and trying to steal some time with the Captains
daughter. Thats why there is usually such a stark contrast each time he shows up again as he becomes
more and more distant, and more and more involved with the Nazi party. Dan Tracy didnt really show
this, in my opinion. His acting choices seemed to read that he was in inner turmoil and almost disgusted
with himself for staying with her through the song (Sixteen Going on Seventeen). Most of the beautiful
pas-de-deux music was spent with him walking his bicycle around with a frustrated look on his face while
Liesl longingly and coquettishly dances playfully before him. Id like to give him the benefit of the
doubt, that perhaps he was so deeply involved in his character study and back story (knowing that Rolf is
a fledgling Nazi, struggling with his loyalties, etc.) butcome on, man. Smile at the girl. Be charming.
You look like you hate yourself, and then you kiss her and leave in a huff. The really strange thing is that
he recently was, or perhaps still is, dating Liesl in real life. Youd think thered be a little more chemistry.
On a more positive note, he had a really decent voice.
I liked the Austrian cabin that flew in for the thunderstorm scene. The scenery/set design was quite good,
and the transitions were SO SMOOTH!!! It was like a breath of fresh air to see a production where the
action just kept moving and the orchestra didnt have to vamp and vamp and vamp. For example, after the
thunderstorm scene, the focus is immediately pulled to Frau Schraeder down left, shaking water off her
umbrella, so you dont even notice the cabin flying off and the Von Trapp veranda appearing.
Impressive. Or maybe Ive just done too many high school musicals
Choreography wasinteresting. I hate to be a nay-sayer when seeing someones fresh new take on the
musical because people who are seeing it for the first time might love it. But, if it aint brokedont fix
it. I missed the So Long, Farewell machine choreography. I understand that they were acting out the
cuckoo clock, but it wasnt as cute. The Landler was SO lacking. It seemed too simplified, almost
playground-ish, holding hands, leaning back and spinning around. Its supposed to be a romantic partner
dance, but it was missing all of the intricate motions that was so lovely and created such tension in the
movie. Also, I understand the Solfege hand signal idea in Do Re Mi, but I didnt care for it. It felt like
they were communicating to one another with sign language. [yes, thats an exaggeration, but I didnt
like it]. It was cool the first time when Maria did it, but it got old.
Rapid Random Thoughts: Popcorn and drinks in live theatre? This is NOT a sporting event or a movie.
Dont talk during the Entracte. You will miss the musical themes being presented. To the lady in front of
me: WHY are you texting someone that there are 6 more scenes before Act II even begins? WHO
walked behind a lighted scrim during Sixteen Going on Seventeen?
Kids were kind of blah. Not really super engaging or likable, but they were very solid. I kind of had a
hard time even differentiating them. Perhaps they are kind of burnt out. It WAS the tours 100th
performance

Elsa Schraeder and Frau Schmidt could have done a lot more, even needed more volume.
Merwin Ford was AWESOME as Max. WOW. I would love to hear him sing the lead in Kismet or
Kiss Me, Kate or Man of La Mancha.
I LOVED the nod to the Grace Kelly-esque dress Julie Andrews wore in the movie.
The Salzburg concert scene was really well done. There was something SO powerful when the floor
length Nazi flags flew down to start the concert. They seemed to cage the family onstage. It was also a
REALLY neat effect when the Nazis were shining the search lights and then all the flags came billowing
down in the transition to the Abbey. Bravo to Ben Davis in this scene! As he is singing Edelweiss and
looking around him, you completely felt his dilemma, his fear, and his sadness. Ive never picked up on
that before in Georg. It gave a beautiful new depth to when he is singing, Bless my homeland
forever, while looking around at the flags representing what has overtaken his beloved homeland. I
liked how they changed the vocal arrangement so that the Captain was the last one singing in the So
Long Farewell reprise. To have him alone on the stage, saying goodbye to his country, singing his last
goodbye in a beautiful falsetto was powerful.
All in all, Id give it a B+.