THE SOUND OF MUSIC Continues to Enthrall

by RoxyRegionalTheatre on July 29, 2011

For a number of years, long after The Sound of Music had closed on Broadway, a neon sign cradled in a large galvanized tin arrow still pointed down toward the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre, announcing the Rodgers and Hammerstein classic. And on rare occasions someone, by accident I’m sure, flipped that switch on 46th Street, west of Broadway, causing it to blink “Mary Martin in…”

The Sound of Music did not open to rave reviews, nor did Phantom of the Opera, for that matter. But, for both, word of mouth caused them to become Broadway phenomena, garnering long runs on Broadway and phenomenal films. But film and Broadway notwithstanding, nothing compares with seeing The Sound of Music live onstage.

My first Broadway show starred Mary Martin in Hello Dolly. It was a national tour, later on, when I went to New York and saw all the lovely ladies who took on the role of Dolly Levi: Carol Channing, Betty Grable, Ginger Rogers, Phyllis Diller, Ethel Merman, Pearl Bailey and Martha Raye.

I had a special admiration for the “Dolly” who took the whole company to Vietnam to perform for the troops. The orchestra opted out for safety reasons, so the production was done with audio tapes. (I know this from meeting the young man who played Barnaby Tucker in that tour.) Due to the uncertainty of consistent electricity from a generator during the performance, some parts of the songs would suddenly slow down or, worse yet, speed up. I’m sure, for the soldiers fortunate enough to witness the first televised Peter Pan, live onstage, seeing Miss Mary (as she was always referred to) must have been an awe-inspiring experience.

Miss Mary was the first actress to play Nellie Forbush in South Pacific. Her husband, Richard Halliday, the Broadway producer, owned the rights to the Family von Trapp’s story, and Mary herself presented the idea of making it into a musical to the team of Rodgers and Hammerstein. Why not? Her husband would produce it, and she would star. And she did.

Our good friend and neighbor, F&M Bank’s Fred Landiss sponsored a morning performance of The Sound of Music. Afterward, Fred fed his coterie of customers while the Roxy interns fed the coterie’s parking meters. I had the great fear that this oh-so-perfect event could easily be spoiled by yellow parking tickets waiting to greet the attendees when they returned to their cars. But thanks to cleverly posted signs and quick-witted interns with a cache of quarters, all went well.

The Sound of Music continues on Wednesdays and Thursdays at 7pm and Fridays and Saturdays at 8pm, with a 2pm matinee on Saturday, August 6. A new batch of von Trapp children join the cast this weekend: Hannah Church as Leisel, David Judd as Friedrich, Margaret Snyder as Louisa, Noah Booth as Kurt, Meghan Judd as Brigitta, Sydney Barksdale as Marta, and Zoe Owen as Gretl.

See you at the theatre!

[John McDonald]

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