Victoria audiences will get to experience the iconic Von Trapp family live this month at the McPherson Playhouse, where the Victoria Operatic Society (VOS) will take on The Sound of Music. The show premieres Dec. 7 at 8 p.m., and it won’t exactly be a remake of the film version we’re all so familiar with.
The musical, which is directed by Jaymes Goodman, marks the VOS’s first show of the 2012/2013 season.
“With the Christmas season of December, the VOS has found that doing shows that are more family-oriented — White Christmas last year, The Sound of Music this year — makes a great family holiday treat,” writes Goodman in an email interview.
The Sound of Music first premiered as a Broadway musical in 1959 and was then adapted in 1965 to the film we now see on television every holiday season, starring the legendary actors Julie Andrews as Maria and Christopher Plummer as Captain Georg Von Trapp.
The story follows Maria, a nun sent to be the governess of a stoic captain’s seven children. Maria and the captain eventually fall in love amidst Nazi Germany’s takeover of Austria.
Goodman acknowledges that people tend to be more familiar with the film version, but points out that the stage version tells the story in a different way.
“We realize the audiences will expect to see and hear things that were done in the film, and we have done our best to accommodate [this] within our limitations,” he writes. “We hope our audience sees that we are telling our version of the story and not trying to retell a version that has already been told.”
The music will also be different. Goodman says the VOS secured performance rights to two songs that were written specifically for the film: “I Have Confidence” and “Something Good.” But the musical will also feature two songs that were dropped from the film.
The thread of Nazism is also more pronounced in the musical than in the film, says Captain Von Trapp actor Colin Grewar.
“[Nazism’s] growth and influence on Austria is a little bit larger in the stage production because [the audience] is closer to it,” says Grewar.
For Grewar and Kelley O’Connor, who plays Maria, getting to play such well known and loved characters is a thrill that comes with a bit of pressure. “Julie Andrews was such an iconic actress for the part. [Those are] pretty big shoes to fill,” says O’Connor, who has been involved with the VOS since 1995.
“Maria is the lead role of lead roles. She’s on stage, like, 90 per cent of the time, and she has five big songs in the first 20 minutes of the show. She’s a big, big role,” she adds.
Grewar — formerly a CBC radio host in Saskatchewan and now in his second production with the VOS — expects the excitement of a live production will keep people from thinking of the movie.
The cast and crew have been rehearsing since September, and in some ways, have come to be a family of their own.
“You always come from a rehearsal feeling quite uplifted, and that’s the way it should be in community theatre,” says Grewar.
Grewar says a highlight so far has been playing a father to seven children.
“They’re so young but so committed. It’s been a real treat to work with them,” he says of the actors who play the Von Trapp children.
Says O’Connor, “The production team is great to work with and so supportive. They give us a lot of opportunity to play around with the characters and get to know each other as actors.”
O’Connor and Grewar also sing each other’s praises. They have worked together before, but as characters with a much different relationship dynamic. Grewar was a father figure to O’Connor’s character in the play Gypsy, also a VOS production.
“It was funny at the beginning because in The Sound of Music there are kissing scenes between me and [Grewar],” says O’Connor. “We kind of joked, saying, ‘Last time you were kind of like my dad, and now I’m kissing you.’ ”
The Victoria Operatic Society presents: The Sound of Music
Dec. 7–8 and 13–15 @ 8 p.m.
Dec. 9 and 16 @ 2 p.m.
Tickets start at $19 for students