A disclaimer: I am obsessed The Sound of Music. Ever since I first saw it as a toddler, I’ve been in love with the musical. I must have watched the film at least 50 times. I’ve dressed up as Maria for Halloween, gone to participatory screenings and Broadway productions. Despite the corniness and slight historical inaccuracies of the Rodger and Hammerstein version, I adore it. So as you can imagine, there was no way for me to be impartial when viewing the Citadel’s current production.
The Citadel took on a near-impossible task in putting on the much-beloved story. How can a stage production compete with a film that had an $8.2 million budget (in 1965)? The Citadel managed to match the spectacle, but adapted it to a theatre setting. Fantastic sets appeared from the darkness and served as the home to Phillip Nero’s playful choreography. The orchestra flawlessly delivered the familiar ebbs and swells of Richard Rodger’s famous score. At times I found myself simply watching the conductor as the notes just flowed through him. The atmosphere was exhilarating.
In terms of the acting, Susan Gilmour stood out. She is perfect for the role of the Baroness. I cannot say this enough. Strutting around in slinky, sparkly evening gowns with her hair piled atop her head, she was Elsa Schraeder. And the young actors playing the Von Trapp children were an instant hit with the audience. Even the youngest of them created three-dimensional characters and filled the stage with their presence.
That said, the show did fall into the uncanny valley of musicals. While it referenced the famous film in costumes, casting and some dialogue, several scenes and the order of songs were altered. For those familiar with the film, it can be a bit jarring. Further, some of the changes created discontinuities on the story. (e.g. Why would the baroness beg the Captain to throw her a party and then later feign a headache so that she can avoid it?) I’m not sure if the script was from the original Broadway production or was unique to the Citadel’s show, but either way I found it frustrating.
But, in the end, how can you not enjoy The Sound of Music? It’s a story about love, family and doing the right thing in the face of evil. The Citadel’s production was unique in that it included “How Can Love Survive” and “No Way to Stop It”, two songs that underscore the story’s political message, neither of which were included in the film version.
Whether you’re a Sound of Music fanatic, or just a casual fan, check out the Citadel’s production. It might not be exactly what you’re expecting, but it will lift your spirits no matter what.
The Sound of Music is playing at the Citadel’s Shoctor Theatre until May 27. Tickets can be found here.