The Sound of Music is a Broadway musical and film based on the book The Story of the Trapp Family Singers by Maria von Trapp. It contains many hit songs, including "Edelweiss", "My Favorite Things", "Climb Ev'ry Mountain", "Do-Re-Mi", "Sixteen Going On Seventeen" and "The Lonely Goatherd", as well as the title song. The film version was one of the biggest box office hits in cinema history.
The music was written by Richard Rodgers and the lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II. The book was written by the writing team of Howard Lindsay and Russel Crouse, based on the book The Story of the Trapp Family Singers by Maria von Trapp. It was the final musical written by the successful team of Rodgers and Hammerstein. Oscar Hammerstein II would die of cancer just nine months after the opening.
After screening a documentary on the von Trapp family, stage director Vincent J. Donehue began shopping the project around before it was picked up by Broadway producers Leland Hayward and Richard Halliday, husband of star Mary Martin. It was originally envisioned to be a non-musical play to be written by Howard Lindsay and Russel Crouse with authentic Austrian music. Then it was decided to add an original song or two, perhaps by Rodgers and Hammerstein. However, it was soon agreed that the project should feature all new songs and be a musical rather than a play.
Part I: In Salzburg, Austria, Maria, a woman studying to become a nun, is sent from her convent to be the governess to seven children of Captain Georg Ritter von Trapp, a widower and a decorated commander in the former Austro-Hungarian Navy. The children, initially hostile and mischievous, come to like her, and she finds herself falling in love with the captain. He was soon to be married to Baroness Elsa Schraeder but marries Maria instead. Maria teaches the children to sing.
Part II: The Nazis take power in Austria as part of the Anschluss, and attempt to force Captain von Trapp back in service. However, during a singing performance in a guarded theater, the whole family flees and walks over the mountains to Switzerland.
It should be noted that details of the von Trapp story were altered for the play and the film. The Captain's eldest child was a boy, not a girl, and the names of the children were changed (at least partly to avoid confusion, as the Captain's second-eldest daughter was also called Maria). The repertoire of the Trapp Family Singers was entirely classical, with a special focus on early motets. The von Trapps spent some years in Austria after Maria and the Captain had married (in 1927) – they did not have to flee right away – and when they did it was to Italy, not Switzerland, by train, not foot.
Two German/Austrian films, Die Trapp-Familie (The Trapp Family, 1956) and a sequel, Die Trapp-Familie in Amerika (1958), were written by Herbert Reinecker and directed by Wolfgang Liebeneiner. Ruth Leuwerik played Maria, Hans Holt was von Trapp.
1959 Broadway musical
The Sound of Music, with music by Richard Rodgers, lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II, and a book by Howard Lindsay and Russel Crouse, opened on Broadway at the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre on November 16, 1959, and starred Mary Martin as Maria and Theodore Bikel as Captain Georg von Trapp. The original Broadway production cast album on the Columbia label (3 million copies), and ran for 1,443 performances.
Original opening night cast:
The production shared the Tony Award for Best Musical, with Fiorello!. It also won for Best Actress in a Musical (Mary Martin), Best Featured Actress in a Musical (Patricia Neway), Best Scenic Design of a Musical (Oliver Smith) and Best Musical Direction. It was also nominated for Best Featured Actor in a Musical (both Theodore Bikel and Kurt Kasznar), Best Director of a Musical (Vincent J. Donehue) and oddly enough, the entire children's cast was nominated for Best Featured Actress category as a single nominee despite the fact that two of them were boys.
The choreographer was Joe Layton.
Martha Wright, Jeannie Carson and Nancy Dussault starred as Maria, as the show went on to have 1,443 performances. Florence Henderson headlined the national tour.
Jon Voight was a replacement for the part of Rolfe, and he eventually married costar Lauri Peters.
1961 London production
The London production opened at the Palace Theatre on May 18, 1961 and ran for 2,385 performances. It was directed by Jerome Whyte. With the original New York choreography supervised by Joe Layton and the original New York sets designed by Oliver Smith.
1964 Valley Music Theater production in San Fernando Valley
Upon completion of the theater's construction at 20600 Ventura Boulevard in Woodland Hills, California, the Valley Music Theater opened on July 6, 1964, with a gala premiere of The Sound of Music. One of its characters was Keith Green, who played "Kurt von Trapp."
1981 London revival
In 1981, at producer Ross Taylor's urging, Petula Clark signed to star in a revival of the show at the Apollo Victoria Theatre in London's West End. Despite her misgivings that at age 51 she was too old to play the role convincingly, Clark opened to unanimous rave reviews (and the largest advance sale in the history of British theatre at that time). Maria von Trapp herself, present at the opening night performance, described her as "the best" Maria ever. Due to an unprecedented demand for tickets, Clark extended her initial six-month contract to thirteen months. Playing to 101% of seating capacity, the show set the highest attendance figure for a single week (October 26–31, 1981) of any British musical production in history, as chronicled by The Guinness Book of Theatre. This was the first stage production to incorporate the two additional songs that Richard Rodgers had composed for the film version. The cast recording of this production was the first to be recorded digitally, but the recording has never been released on compact disc.
The 1987 Telarc studio cast recording
The Telarc label made a studio cast recording of The Sound of Music with the Cincinnati Pops Orchestra conducted by Erich Kunzel, casting opera stars in the lead roles. Frederica von Stade sang the role of Maria opposite Hakan Hagegard's Captain von Trapp and Eileen Farrell as the Mother Abbess. Kunzel cast children from the Cincinnati School for the Creative and Performing Arts to sing the children's parts. This all-digital recording combined the songs of both the stage and screen versions, and included sections of music that had been recorded for the first time.
The 1988 Takarazuka version
In 1988, the Snow Troupe of Takarazuka Revue performed the musical at the Bow Hall, starring Harukaze Hitomi and Gou Mayuka.
1990 New York City Opera production
In 1990, the New York City Opera production was directed by Oscar Hammerstein II's son, James. It featured Debby Boone as Maria; Laurence Guittard as Captain von Trapp; Werner Klemperer as Max Detweiler; and Claudia Cummings as Mother Abbess.
The 1991 Japanese Animation version
In 1991, Nippon Animation produced a series of animation with 40 episodes according to the life of the Trappe family, and was broadcasted by Fuji TV. This series had been broadcast in Italy, Hong Kong, Germany, France, Poland etc.
The 1998 revival
In 1998, director Susan Schulman staged the first Broadway revival of The Sound of Music, with Rebecca Luker as Maria and Michael Siberry as Captain von Trapp. It also featured Patti Cohenour as Mother Abbess, Jan Maxwell as Elsa Schraeder, Fred Applegate as Max Detweiler, and Laura Benati in her Broadway debut. Later, Luker and Siberry were replaced by Richard Chamberlain as the Captain and Benati as Maria. Lou Taylor Pucci made his Broadway debut as the understudy for Kurt von Trapp. This revival opened on March 12, 1998 at the Martin Beck Theatre where it ran for 15 months, then went on to tour in North America. This production was nominated for a Tony Award for Best Revival of a Musical.
The Australian production
The Australian production of The Sound of Music opened in the Lyric Theatre, in Sydney, New South Wales, with the star of the popular Australian drama Blue Heelers, Lisa McCune, playing the role of Maria von Trapp, TV personality Bert Newton as Max and John Waters as Captain von Trapp. The von Trapp Children were played by two casts of children, alternating performances. One of these casts included Pia Morley, Christopher Nolan, Stephanie Martonhelyi, Mathew Gammel, Nikki Webster, Rachel Marley and Lauren Vartanian. This production was based on the 1998 Broadway revival staging, directed by Susan Schulman. The show was produced by the Gordon Frost Organisation and Sports and Entertainment Limited.
Other cities the production toured were Melbourne, Victoria, and Brisbane, Queensland.
The show also was also performed in Perth, Western Australia, with Rachael Beck replacing Lisa McCune as Maria, and Rob Guest assuming the role of Captain von Trapp.
2005 Vienna production
In February 2005, the musical premiered at the Volksoper in Vienna. This was the first ever production in Austria. This production starred Austro-Australian actress Sandra Pires as Maria and opera singer Michael Kraus as Captain von Trapp. The production was directed by Renaud Doucet and designed by André Barbe. Erich Kunzel conducted.
2006 London revival
Andrew Lloyd Webber's plans to reopen the musical in London's West End from late 2006 are under way. The London Palladium has now been confirmed as the venue and Live Nation's David Ian will co-produce with Jeremy Sans at the helm. Following failed negotiations with Hollywood star Scarlett Johansson, the role of Maria was cast through a search across the talent of the UK in a reality TV show called How Do You Solve A Problem Like Maria?. The show was produced by and starred Lloyd Webber as well as comedian Graham Norton. Connie Fisher was voted by the public as the winner of the show after a close final between her, Helena Blackman and Siobhan Dillon and will take the lead role of Maria. Simon Shephard has been confirmed for the role of Captain von Trapp and Lesley Garrett as Mother Abbess. The Sound of Music will begin its run with previews starting on the 3rd November 2006 and tickets are already on sale.
List of Soundtracks