The Sound of Music
Thru April 9
At Proctors, Schenectady
If you think you already have your secret list of “Top Five Musicals” in your head, you may need to recalculate. “Sound of Music”, the timeless tale of the indelible von Trapp family and their escape from Nazi Germany, playing now at Proctors, is hands down one of the finest musicals I have ever seen.
We all recall Julie Andrews and her delightful “The hills are alive….” Spinning with the Alps in the background has indeed become one of the most recognized scenes in music history. [As a side note, Diane Sawyer recently tried to locate where that scene was filmed. She did, but it was not easy to find, as one would think it would be. To her dismay, it is nowhere on tourist maps and one must go on private property to stand on that very spot.. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2r5HI-jy6po ]
Dare I say, however, that I enjoyed this play more than I ever enjoyed the movie. The play is fast-paced, direct, on point, and tells the story with a crisp, no nonsense approach. The acting is dynamic, the story line easy to follow, and you never want this to end. To make the experience even better, the singing here is absolutely incredible—and filling the shoes of the likes of Julie Andrews is never an easy job to do [ Let us not forget the live orchestra here, as well, which did a superb presentation].
The Captain (Nicholas Rodriquez), is a decorated World War 1 sea captain. He is widowed, lives in Austria, and has seven children. He seeks a governess (Maria, played by Charlotte Maltby) to help him raise his kids. The family is an avid singing troupe, and is well known through their public appearances for their concerts.
Maria is conflicted between her quest for the nunhood and her love for the Captain. We are treated to scenes in the monastery with her fellow nuns and Mother Abbess (Melody Betts). Their harmony together sounds, well, like it was indeed Heaven sent. Mother Abbess was her own show stealer, with a voice that shook Proctors off the foundation. When her fellow nuns joined it, a choir of angels filled the air.
The Nazis have not yet annexed Austria, but it’s coming. The “Anschluss” is met with mixed reaction; Some of the Captain's friends can’t wait for it, but the Captain is absolutely against Hitler. He refuses to fly the flag at his estate, and when Nazis summoned him to become a sea captain once again, the von Trapps decided they have one more concert to do to buy them time. The concert was on a Friday, and the Captain was supposed to report for military duty the following Monday. But at the Friday concert (which was a competition), it was announced that Nazis were waiting for the Captain, and he would be immediately leaving at the close of the awards ceremony.
With no money in hand, the von Trapps steal away from the theater and head off to the Monastery. The town is surrounded by Nazis looking for him. They are located in the garden of the monastery by a Nazi soldier who once had a crush on a von Trapp daughter and decided to turn the other way. Here, fiction separates from fact: The movie-- and the play-- have the family escaping with the shirts on their back through the Alps to Switzerland (“Climb Every Mountain”). Subsequent biographies have them escaping to Italy on a train.
However they fled, the von Trapps escaped to the one country the world escapes to: They arrived in America nearly penniless, and continued their singing to make some money. They toured the country looking for a place that reminded them of the Alps, and settled in Stowe, Vermont. You can still visit their lodge today. http://didyouweekend.com/content/trapp-family-lodge
This story immortalizes one family’s resistance and escape from one of the most heinous regimes to ever walk the earth. During an era when so many fell for the Nazi promise of false hope, this is the story of one family who represents those who resisted.
This play, however, is remarkable in the ensemble of talent, and its interpretation of the story we have all come to love. Maria, Mother, the Captain, the nuns—even the children—come together in an unmatched colloquy of talent, singing all of our favorites, making this one of my favorite musicals of all time.
--Richard DiMaggio, didyouweekend.com
Address: Schenectady, NY, USA