Photo: Matthew Murphy

On March 1, we were fortunate to catch the first glimpse of Rodgers & Hammerstein’s “The Sound of Music,” directed by Jack O’Brien. Since the film first debuted in 1965, I was sure the audience would be reflective of such. It was nice meeting so many people who had such fond memories of the original production with Julie Andrews and how big of an impact the film had during that time.

An example of that impact can be seen in modern-day entertainment. Anyone born after 2000 wouldn’t have a clue who Julie Andrews is, let alone heard of The Sound of Music, but they’d be surprised to know they’ve had glimpses of it. Anytime a TV show or Cartoon (Family Guy for example) performs a rendition of “My Favorite Things” they’re actually channeling their inner Maria Rainer (Andrews’ character in the film). Whenever someone hears “The hills are alive with the sound of music” or the very mention of the Von Trapp Family Singers, those are all references from the timeless classic.

The Party - From left: Merwin Foard as ‘Max Detweiler,’ Teri Hansen as ‘Elsa Schraeder’ and Ben Davis as ‘Captain Georg von Trapp’ - Photo: Matthew Murphy
The Party – From left: Merwin Foard as ‘Max Detweiler,’ Teri Hansen as ‘Elsa Schraeder’ and Ben Davis as ‘Captain Georg von Trapp’ – Photo: Matthew Murphy

This tune-filled production is based on the real life story of the Von Trapp Family singers, one of the world’s best-known concert groups in the era immediately preceding World War II. Kerstin Anderson plays the role of Maria, the tomboyish postulant at an Austrian abbey who becomes a governess for the Von Trapp family. In the home of this retired naval captain lives seven children, all of whom know nothing but structure from their strict and orderly father. Maria makes a grand impact on the children, bringing a new love of life and music to their household.

Captain Von Trapp is played by Ben Davis. As a very stern figure, Von Trapp has everyone on his estate in order and in check. To summon anyone from his governess to his children, all he has to do is whistle. As opposed to learning the different pitches to make requests, Maria teaches the children about the warmth, glow, and overall feeling of music. Von Trapp is not a supporter of the regime changes and as an Austrian, refuses to acknowledge the German takeover that is slowly happening. Things start to get complicated when the Captain decides to marry Ursula (Andrea Ross), the CEO of a company who rivals riches with Von Trapp. This sort of pairing had questionable intentions and support from “Uncle Max” (Merwin Foard), better known as Max Detweiler. One should always question the intentions of someone who “loves the way rich people live, and love the way they live when I’m with them.”

This Broadway in Atlanta feature production was perfect in every way (10 out of 10). The singing, the set design, the cast, the love, the laughs, and the overall experience makes this an epic “must-see” production while it’s here. An extra kudos goes to Kerstin Anderson as Maria, Merwin Foard who was hilarious as Max Detweiler, and all of the young talent that rounded out the Von Trapp Family Singers: Audrey Bennett (Gretl), Maria Knasel (Louisa), Mackenzie Currie (Marta), Paige Silvester (Liesl), Svea Johnson (Brigitta), Erich Schuett (Friedrich), and Quinn Erickson (Kurt). The level of talent in those children is astounding.

The production is running March 1-6 at the Fox Theatre. Click HERE for tickets.

-Jon J.

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