This week I’m taking a slight detour from the Summer of Blockbusters to visit everyone’s favorite Austrian, singing almost-nun. The Chicago Lyric Opera has staged a beautiful production of “The Sound of Music” and I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to gush.
It’s a bit of a departure 2WC’s usual Flick Friday, but seeing as “The Sound of Music” is one of the most beloved films of all time, I’m counting the stage show that inspired it as an acceptable stand in.
Also, as Zer and I discussed in our Sunday post, we were both less than enthused with this week’s summer movie offerings, but that’s enough rehashing. It’s time for some favorite things, so let’s get to it. Here’s a special theatrical edition of Flick Friday:
It’s not possible to talk about “The Sound of Music” without mentioning Julie Andrews, and, thanks to NBC’s highly watched (and critically picked apart) production, a certain other name has become attached to it as well. So, I’ll share my love and admiration for Julie Andrews now, and never, ever mention the other one again. (If you can’t say anything nice…)
From the moment those iconic opening church bells chimed right up until the final von Trapp made it over the mountain this production was just as magical and mesmerizing as the film we all know and love.
Jenn Gambatese as Maria is a firecracker. I’ve never seen anyone ham it up so much as Maria, but this spazzy version worked wonderfully and mellowed out nicely to the post-Climb Every Mountain Maria we meet in Act 2.
The headliner of this production, Billy Zane as Captain von Trapp, is the calm quiet leader you expect in the role, with a surprisingly smooth singing voice.
Then of course there are the children who are just as adorable and incredibly talented as you’d expect.
But this show wouldn’t be complete without its other featured roles, and I couldn’t live with myself if I didn’t mention how amazing Edward Hibbert is as Max Detweiler. It’s as though the role was written for him, seriously. Finally, the Mother Abbess and her chorus of sisters are perfection. The show features the vocal prowess (and sense of humor) of the nuns in a way that the movie skims over. They’re a wonderful surprise every time I see this show done on stage.
In many ways it stayed close to the original, but the inclusion of “I Have Confidence” and “Something Good” kept it familiar to the film lovers in the audience.
The sheer size of the Lyric Opera gave this show room to be as large as it needs to be, and it was. This show filled absolutely every nook and cranny of that stage, from the epic sets, to the incredible orchestra, to the magical choreography (with and without bicycles), to the incredible talents, this theater is the perfect venue for a full-scale production of this show and it more than rose to the occasion.
This is the Lyric Opera’s third year including a musical in their season. This is their second Rodgers & Hammerstein after last year’s “Oklahoma”, although “Show Boat” accounts for the Hammerstein half of R&H. They’ve also already mapped out three more years of R&H (“Carousel”, “The King and I”, and “South Pacific”). This production is the best they’ve done thus far, and I look forward to seeing what comes next.
“The Sound of Music” runs though June 25. For more info check out their website: Lyric Opera