The Sound of Music at the
by Tony Medley
I’ve seen “The Sound of
Music” so many times, both on the stage and the movie, that I could
probably be cast in any role and know the lines. But most people know it
through the movie, and the movie and the play have distinct differences,
one of which is different music. After Oscar Hammerstein died and the
movie deal was made, Richard Rogers dumped two songs from the play and
wrote new ones, and it wasn’t a good idea. Dropped, both from the second
act, was “No Way to Stop It,” a charming song sung by Captain von Trapp
(John Schneider, whose strong voice is a welcome departure from prior
Captains like Theodore Bikel on Broadway and the movie’s Christopher
Plummer, whose singing voice had to be dubbed by Bill Lee), Max
Detweiler(Jeffrey Tambor, who seemed lost in the part) and Baroness Elsa
Shraeder (Rachel York, who is as delightfully acquisitive as was Eleanor
Parker in the film) as Max is trying to convince the Captain that he
doesn’t have to bow his head, just “stoop a little” to the Nazis,
Every star and every whirling planet,
every constellation in the sky,
revolves around the center of the universe,
that lovely thing called I!
Nothing else as wonderful
I, I, I, I, I!
You won’t hear this in the
movie, so it’s a delight to hear it again on stage.
Another song Rogers replaced
was the love song, “An Ordinary Couple,” a duet between Maria (Melissa
Errico) and the Captain after they declare their love for one another.
Rogers never liked it, so when he had the opportunity, he jettisoned it
for a new song, “Something Good.” My feeling has always been that
“Something Good,” while tuneful, is too pedestrian and self-centered,
talking about Maria having done something good to deserve the Captain.
“An Ordinary Couple,” with its delightfully sophisticated antipodal
approach (they are certainly not an “ordinary” couple) and better
melody, seemed much more romantic to me:
Is all we’ll ever
But all I want of
Is to keep you
close to me.
These decisions show why
Rogers never remotely approached the same lofty heights after he lost
his lyricist and emphasize the value of words to a song.
The movie also moved songs.
In the play, “The Lonely Goatherd,” is a yodeling song that Maria sings
to the children in her bedroom in the first act. In the movie it was
moved to the second act in order to introduce Bil and Cora Baird’s
The Hollywood Bowl production
is a showcase for the talents of the wonderful Melissa Errico, who
charmed Bowl audiences last year as Guinevere in “Camelot.” She is
equally compelling as Maria. She is beautiful; her acting is
accomplished, but it’s her voice! It is breathtakingly clear and lush.
Andrea Bowen plays the eldest
daughter, Leisl, to great effect. There isn’t much dancing in “The Sound
of Music,” but she does two of them and does them very well. I was
sitting up close and watching her feet, however. The Bowl is so huge
that if you aren’t up that close, her dancing might not have much
The best part of the movie
for me has always been “Laendler,” the Austrian folk dance during which
Maria and the Captain fall in love. Director Robert Wise, Julie Andrews,
and Christopher Plummer played this to such wonderful effect that it is
still the highlight of the film for me. Unfortunately, there isn’t the
same magical chemistry between Schneider and Errico when they do the
dance that was achieved in the movie.
But these are just trifles.
“The Sound of Music” is about the best of American music and it’s a rare
pleasure to sit under the stars and enjoy it with such a brilliant
July 30, 2006