Posts Tagged ‘The Sound of Music’

New Adventures

This week has started off with two new new opportunities.  First, the casting results of the Village Players’ production of The Sound of Music.  I will be playing the role of Franz, the butler.  At first I was unsure of how I felt about that… Dejected, miscast?  I told me voice coach that I was really unsure.  Of course, this is knowing the film as well as I do.  It seemed that I would have very limited stage time.  However this morning, I researched the stage role and learned that Franz is in significantly more of the original stage version.  And I am determined to create yet another memorable role.

Although I have no idea of much of the cast I do know that Mare has been cast as the Mother Superior.  Anyone who knows her and the role would think that they two were tailor-made.  A very formidable presence on-stage with a  crazy powerful voice.  I am also happy to welcome Jessica and her daughter, Melody to the group.  Jessica played Gretl in high school and will be playing one of  the nuns this time.  Melody has been cast as Louisa.  CONGRATS ladies!

This morning, I was asked to begin contributing to a new blog which my pal has initiated as part of the group he began over the past year.  I will be providing my own personal views on the Catholic faith I was born into and have chosen to follow over my 39 years.  While C is still diligently searching for a new congregation to lead, he has started Disciple Day, a group initiated to help spread the good news.  It began back in September with the inaugural Famine Games and moved onto the adventurous “Slip ‘n’ Slide into the New Year” and just finished a makeover night given by a group of wild and crazy cool young ladies.

All this, plus, I am plowing my way through the 1463 page complete and unabridged Les Miserables.  I bought my copy back in the Spring of 1994 right before I went on tour with the BGSU Men’s Chorus where I first saw the stage version on Broadway.  Over that time, I have tried to make my way through it at least twice.  I think this time, I have been pacing myself and for whatever reason I am enjoying it more (although some of the long passages exploring Paris…. Napoleon, etc…. at the time can be a bit dry).

Check out the new site and come and check out The Sound of Music March 1-3!  And SEE the best stage to screen musical adaptation ever!

How Do You Solve A Problem

Well.. another audition has come and gone.  THIS time, I did say that I definitely was trying out for Captain Von Trapp.  I had forgotten that Max does indeed sing in the stage version. However, since the general public is more familiar with the classic film version, most people may not know this.  I feel that the time has come to stretch myself dramatically.  I have portrayed the lead male in a play before (still my greatest on-stage challenge to date); yet. the dramatic lead of a HUGE musical is something I have never been presented with.  I have always felt that while Uncle Max would be another fun scene-stealer but the Captain would definitely be more of a challenge as he is much more dynamic in that he starts out as a strict disciplinarian to his seven children but his heart begins to soften as Maria reintroduces music and fun into the household.

I felt that the audition went really well. There were a large number of children the first day (of two) try outs.  Some of them were really quite impressive ranging in age from 5-13.  They each sang a bit of “Do-Re-Mi,” and “My Favorite Things.”  Each of them were also asked to yodel as the seven children need to during “The Lonely Goatherd” number (one of the many differences between stage and screen… there is no marionette show).  After singing, the read a bit of the scene in which Maria is introduced to them.

Being the only adult male in attendance who wanted a singing role, it was difficult to judge the competition.  I was asked to sing “Edelweiss.”  The version in the score is a little low for my taste but I thought I performed nicely.  I also brought a selection of my own which must have impressed.  One of my friends in the room even told me that she had never heard me sing before.  WOW!  I then read for the role of Captain Von Trapp in the scene in which he and Maria meet and he insists that the house is run with a discipline.  Later, I did read for Max.  Seriously, I know what kind of character Max is but I was asked to start over as I was “reading the part like you read  the Captain.”

There must have been more adults Sunday as there were a total of 65 auditioners.  However, there is still a need for a Rolf the “seventeen going on eighteen” love interest of Liesl).  The thing that I am apprehensive about is the limited amount of time we have to put this together.  There are callbacks anticipated for this weekend and the first rehearsal is next Tuesday.  The show opens on March 1st.  However, I am sure that the cast and creative hands will pull together nicely.

Puppetry Of The Newlyweds

I catch the Newlywed Game on Game Show Network occasionally.  Tonight, I had the opportunity to watch a couple I actually know (well… the male participant, anyway) try to guess each other’s answers.  I came in midway but I thought to myself… “That looks a lot like Rich Binning.” Given that the wife’s name was Olivia convinced me even further.  I was still like… “NO WAY!”  Until a question that seemed almost tailor-made for the New York-based actor who grew up in this neck of the woods was asked.  When a commercial came on, I rewound to the beginning to learn that it was indeed Rich and Olivia.  Of course, the actor’s latest professional gig was well plugged… something about contorting his maleness in various… well, you get the point.

Rich’s mother has taught at my alma mater since I was in elementary school.  I also shared the stage with him when FCF performed The Sound of Music several summers ago.  I played a party guest at the home of Captain Von Trapp  as well as the Nazi guard who announces the escape of the family following the festival concert near the end of the show. Rich played Rolf, Liesl’s love interest.

Unfortunately, the couple did not win but they had points on the board so it was not all bad.

Best In Film

Seriously, how many different groups  must we listen to in order to determine what is the best film of all time?  We already have the periodic AFI specials.  Tonight we had another group telling us which was supposed (I believe) to take the popular vote into account.  One of several genres I caught was “Best Musical.”  Of course, I had to comment on that one.  I took umbrage with the five choices and their placement.  Now we have “Best Kiss?”  OH< PLEASE!  Back to the topic at hand…

Best Musical:

  • West Side Story (1961) I don’t believe that there has ever been a more celebrated movie musical… winner of 10 Academy Awards.  The Romeo and Juliet story told amidst the backdrop of gang infested New York City.  Elvis was offered the lead role of Tony; however, turned it down because he thought it would tarnish his image if he were associated with a film that dealt with violence.  Fascinating, since one of his earliest films, King Creole, dealt with just that.  I, personally would have placed this one higher.
  • Singin’ in the Rain (1952) Classic, CLASSIC, CLASSIC! Gene Kelly dancing and singing with a 103º temperature while being drenched by a mixture of water and milk (because water alone did not show up well enough).  My favorite scene, Donald O’Connor’s “Make Em’ Laugh” song and dance.
  • The Wizard of Oz (1939) WHAT!!!!  Totally missed out on this one! Especially when you look at the next two.  One tidbit I was not aware of:  at times, Judy Garland could not stand working with Toto because his breath was so awful.  Help me out, Taylhis… have you heard THAT one?!
  • Grease (1978) While I do enjoy a viewing from time to time, this one gets on my nerves.  Maybe it is from all the times my siblings and I were allowed to stay up past our bedtimes to watch it on a school night… maybe it was the drama of a certain community theatre’s production.  Definitely voted too high… should have been #5 at best.  Well… at least the horrendous Dirty Dancing was not in the top 5.  I guess there are some who consider it a musical.
  • The Sound of Music (1965) The most profitable movie musical of all time.  With inflation taken into account, it has made over $1 billion placing it third all time behind Gone with the Wind and the original Star Wars. I would have a hard time deciding between this and Oz as the top musical.  Both are personal favorites.

At least they got the “Top Action Film” correct.  Raiders of the Lost Ark.  No bloody Indiana Jones and the… placed before the title.  When did they add that, anyway?  I dunno… would anyone be game for a fifth installment?  Harrison Ford would be if the story was right.  Just do away with Indy’s son.

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Morning Guilty Pleasure

This morning, I was able to catch most of Regis and Kelly (the ONLY celebrity focused morning show I enjoy watching).  As I made mention of earlier, John Stamos is now in previews for Bye, Bye Birdie for its return to the Broadway stage since the debut 50 years ago (WOW!).  Mr. Stamos will be playing the lead part of Albert Peterson.  Dick Van Dyke originated the role of Conrad Birdie’s manager in the original production as well as the original movie.  The cinematic experience does not do the stage version justice at all.  Not sure why but like many musicals it is much better to have that live, theatrical experience.  I honestly cannot think of many musicals that have translated better or at least as enjoyably on the screen.  I guess I would say The Sound of Music only because it has been so ingrained into pop culture as a movie that many forget or don’t realize that is was Rodgers and Hammerstein’s theatrical swan song.  That reason and the puppet show version of “The Lonely Goatherd” is my favorite part of the movie and IS NOT in the stage version.

Ok… back to my original topic.  During the interview, Reege made mention of the fact that Ann-Margrock (err.. Margret) played the young girl, Kim MacAfee in the movie.  Shortly after the movie was filmed, Ms. Margret would be Presley’s leading lady in my mother’s favorite Elvis movie, Viva Las Vegas.  However, Mom was not aware that she was in the cast of Birdie.

Here’s a few more tidbits: one of our fellow tangenteers has played the role of pop singing idol/draftee Conrad Birdie. I assisted in the directing of my high school alma mater’s production a few years ago.  AND there was a veery short lived sequel (4 performances) entitled Bring Back Birdie which was set twenty years following the events of the original.  Twenty years is quite a LONG time to wait to attempt a comeback.

WHOOO HOOO WE HAVE A SHOW!!!

After Tuesday nights ever predictable rehearsal from heck, the cast, crew, and orchestra really pulled together tonight.  Tuesday’s rehearsal was predictably bad because I have yet to be in ANY show in which opening week was not full of pitfalls.  I actually would be very surprised if I ever in one that ran flawlessly… I would have to walk out and come back into the theatre.

The entire evening was magical.  You would have thought we had a paying audience.  This was the first time that Grandpa got to be in makeup.  The director’s major comment after the run is that I needed more age lines.  OK, I will inform the makeup mistress of this tomorrow night.  I DO NOT do my own makeup.  Although a certain female within my home theatre scares me sometimes when she carries around a mascara applicator.  Honestly, look into my eyes and tell me that my lashes need extended.

One thing that was mentioned in early rehearsals.  Meet Me in St. Louis actually has a basis in fact.  Sally Benson,whose nickname was Tootie, wrote about her childhood experiences in St. Louis and attending the 1904 World’s Fair.  The house that her family lived in on Kensington was demolished in 1996 as it had fallen into disrepair.  That is all that I know that is historically accurate.  Like The Sound of Music, The King and I, Titanic, and any other historical musicals or plays like Lion in Winter, I am sure there are many tidbits added for dramatic purposes.  But what a treat.  Total run time… we started at 8 and got done juuuuust after 10.  I think the 15 minute intermission went a bit long.  We did get to indulge in some chocolate cake following the rehearsal.  If you happen to be coming, the doors will open at 7.10 Friday and Saturday nights and I would say 1.50 Sunday afternoon.  To The Cast… BREAK A LEG.  To those attending… ENJOY!

How Do You Solve A Problem Like…

While looking over my Firestats, I came across an interesting link.  I have known for years that a common misconception surrounding the song “Edelweiss” from The Sound of Music is that it is an Austrian folksong.  This is false. It was the final lyric written by Oscar Hammerstein II and had nothing to do with Austria aside from the flower that the title comes from.  The misconception seems to have arisen during the emotional reprise of the song by Captain Von Trapp during the festival near the end of the musical.  In the movie, the overwhelmingly Austrian audience is moved to tears and join in song before bursting in thunderous applause.  This could give the impression that the song is of great importance to Austrian people.

Also of note is the fact that the musical is not widely known in Austria.  Although Salzburg makes quite a haul by giving tours of the city and surrounding countryside to fans of the show,  very few of the tourists are  Austrian.

Below is a German translation of Hammerstein’s original by an unknown translator:

DEUTSCH

Musik: Richard Rodgers
Text: Oscar Hammerstein
Deutsch: Unbekannt

Edelweiß, Edelweiß,
Du grüßt mich jeden Morgen,
Sehe ich dich,
Freue ich mich,
Und vergess’ meine Sorgen.
Schmücke das Heimatland,
Schön und weiß,
Blühest wie die Sterne.
Edelweiß, Edelweiß,
Ach, ich hab dich so gerne.

She Had The Final Word

For anyone who knew Emily Curtis well has at times encountered her fierce, stubborn determination get get things done HER WAY!!! Every band show, choir song, organ piece, musical scene everything down to the minutest detail had to meet with her demands.  She was the teacher that you either loved or hated but always respected.  Her devotion to family, country, students, everyone she touched was stronger than most; very few could match her will and strength.  This profound quality  showed in true fashion in the  memorial service that she orchestrated herself.

The prelude music was traditional Ma.  From the religious to the patriotic to musical theatre to CHRISTMAS? was all there.  You heard correctly… Christmas.  The woman had Christmas trees in every room of her house every year… yes, even the bathroom.  “Silent Night” closed every holiday concert she ever directed.  The choir (be it high school, junior high, or elementary) stood in the darkened  auditorium  with lighted candles and sang  all three verses  alternating from English  lyrics to the traditional German.  I also heard “O, Holy Night.”

The Broadway pieces also were typical.  “You’ll Never Walk Alone” from Carousel would fit most funerals and is a regular piece in many church hymnals.  I also heard “Edelweiss” from The Sound of Music which was the last lyric that Oscar Hammerstein II wrote. I was half expecting to hear the guitar opening the overture of Jesus Christ Superstar, but must have come in late.

On to the service itself.  I’m sure that Emily chose each reading herself.  However, the point that drove the whole thing home was Amanda’s “Time of Remembrance.”  Her mother asked her to deliver it.. they did everything together.  At the end of her delivery, Amanda took out a micro-cassette player and pushed “Play.”  then, Emily’s voice filled the  church  as she  told of her love of family,  country, and large support group.  She ever joked about her need to have the final word.  She never gave up her battle with leukemia.  The doctors and nurses at the James Center on the OSU campus were all amazed at her fortitude.  They dubbed her either “princess” or “general.”  They knew her well, too.  Unfortunately, the disease finally defeated her.

The music played during the service was also quite unusual for most… but not for Ma’s.  A violinist played “Carmen Ohio” (the Ohio State alma mater).  Although she was a graduate of Miami University of Ohio, Emily was a traditional Buckeye… she bled Scarlet and Grey.

Following the internment service, a large number of people returned to the church to celebrate and remember  Emily.  Teachers… remarkably who found subs for the day (probably 15 total), family, friends shared some personal memories.  My mother told me that we had until 1.45 because she had to get back to drive the school bus.  I can honestly say that I am a stronger person because my life has been touched by Emily and her typical lunch of fat-free pringles or honey mustard pretzels and her can of Diet Coke (I would not want to be around her if she did not have her can of Diet Coke).  So many great, profound, life-affirming memories that will last forever.  THANK YOU MA, I LOVE YOU…SON2.

From Stage To Screen

Last night’s final dress rehearsal contained a small, intimate audience including two of my best friends who really enjoyed the performance (even if I am killed by a girl… not my fault that is how it is written). But I was really pleased with the entire evening. The length of the performance actually was about 10-15 minutes shorter than what we had been anticipating most of the week. I even got a crash course in spotlight use to substitute for the irreplaceable light woman who was still ill.

Today, while sitting at my brother’s house waiting for a package that was to be delivered, I found the 1994 movie version of Little Women on television. Like most works that have more than one form, there were some differences between the stage and movie versions. I believe that both versions contain at heart the same theme: Do not be afraid to be true to yourself. Do not allow society to impact that which you truly feel you are meant to do.

I also was able to dig deeper into some of the characters while watching the movie. I often wondered why Grandfather Lawrence (John Neville) was at first portrayed as a crotchety old man and then have a change of heart by his interactions with Beth. Like Captain Von Trapp in the Sound of Music, Mr. Lawrence lost someone close to him which left an emptiness. Hearing Beth (Claire Danes) play the piano filled that void, lifted his spirits, and melted his heart… AWWWWW.

Mr. Lawrence’s grandson Laurie (Christian Bale) is also given more depth in the movie. After his marriage proposal to Jo (Winona Ryder) is rejected, Laurie runs off to Europe and becomes a womanizing drunk until he encounters Amy (Kirsten Dunst) painting at school. At first, I believe that Laurie was in love with the idea of becoming a true member of the March family. However, I do believe that through the courtship he did fall in love with Amy.

Nowhere is the central core of both pieces more substantial than in Jo’s venture from Concord to New York where she meets Professor Bhear (Gabriel Byrne). Although they are both headstrong and stubborn, the professor encourages Jo to write that which is pleasing to her and not to the publishers who keep rejecting her stories. This path may not lead to a great financial career but will in time please her on a personal level.

Another important part of both versions are the wild, imaginative plays the girls perform. In a scene from the movie, Meg attends a party given in honor of Annie Moffett’s coming of age. Annie decides to turn Meg into something she is not and Meg foolishly agrees to “play” along by wearing a corset showing off her figure, and experimenting with drinking (Trini Alvarado). Laurie catches her and she immediately hides in a corner, full of shame.

So while both versions are basically true to each other, there are moments in each which enhance both.

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Where Have You Gone Joe Dimaggio?

Tonight was my first real rehearsal for Little Women. It seems like it has been forever since we had our read through almost 2 weeks ago. The director even commented that it seems like forever since I have been there. The last week has been for the March sisters to meet and discuss. Before rehearsal began, some of us were discussing the current musical Spring Awakening. I know very little about it aside from the fact that it probably would be much too controversial to present in our small community theatre. We then played a game of sorts by connecting the dots between various musicals. For instance, what do My Fair Lady and The Music Man have in common. Or perhaps, Gypsy and The Sound of Music. Call it a mini quiz for you hearty souls brave enough to try.

Rehearsal itself was quite interesting. We did manage to sing through five of the seventeen songs in the show. Not bad when you have as many as 5 different parts singing at once. There were even times when two entirely different melodies were supposed to be sung at the same time. Let’s just say that “The Weekly Volcano Press” is probably the most challenging piece in the show.

After the songs I was a part of were finished, I was told that I could go if I wanted to. Hmm… Mr. Director not know Morat too well do he? I stuck around, listened, and tried to help those around me when I could which at times was quite interesting. I found myself trying to help the young man playing Theodore Laurence III (“Laurie”) by softly humming along as he sang his part in “Five Forever.”

I even found myself learning more about my character, the evil stock character villain Braxton Prendergast, by listening to the other songs being sung. I cannot wait to block the scenes I am in. Quite melodramatic (perhaps more popcorn or skittles to be thrown, but I doubt that that would be allowed… maybe some cheers for the villain would be appropriate). But all in all, I thought it was a very rewarding rehearsal.

THEN… I GOT HOME and caught the lowlights of the Yankees and Orioles game. So much for A-Rod’s return. Baltimore scored seven runs in the first inning. The final score was Baltimore 12…. New York 2?! Which puts the Bronx Bombers record at 20-25. UGH!!!!

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