Today we are saluting one of the most beloved Broadway scores of all time, created by the formidable show business songwriting dynasty of Richard Rodgers & Oscar Hammerstein - THE SOUND OF MUSIC. While the original 1959 Broadway production was well-received and won Mary Martin a Tony Award for her winsome Maria, the property has gone on to win over generations the world over thanks in no small part to the 1965 Robert Wise feature film version starring Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer. On Monday, Carnegie Hall will be presenting a special concert version of the family- friendly show starring Laura Osnes, Tony Goldwyn and Brooke Shields. Be sure to check out my comprehensive conversation with Brooke Shields, who will be playing the Baroness, available here, and, also, stay tuned to BroadwayWorld for my upcoming InDepth InterView with the Maria of the concert presentation, rising Broadway superstar Laura Osnes. So, what exactly is it about THE SOUND OF MUSIC that has won over audiences of all ages for more than fifty years and set hearts aflutter and souls stirred? Is it the dramatic story of a family torn apart by death and war only to be brought back together again when least expected by a kindly maternal nun? Is it the slice of life depiction of the family dynamic and how we can all relate to one or many facets of it therein? Is it the ensuing romance between Maria and Captain Von Trapp and their delicately portrayed courtship (particularly when considering the ravishing duet added for the film, "Something Good")? Or, is it that classic Rodgers & Hammerstein score - containing a dizzying assortment of standards that have gone on to become ingrained in our ears, minds and hearts, as well as made a fixture of pop culture itself - "Do-Re-Mi", "My Favorite Things", "Edelweiss", "The Lonely Goatherd", "Climb Ev'ry Mountain", the title song and beyond. AMC's hit series MAD MEN even featured one of the most beloved SOUND OF MUSIC duets on a recent broadcast as an ironic episode capper all too befitting of the moment (and, given the 60s setting of the series, era) - Betty Draper mischievously sneaking an extra bowl of ice cream set to the strains of "I Am Sixteen Going On Seventeen". Between the MAD MEN song reference, the ongoing SOUND OF MUSIC film singalongs occurring every week (with many patrons coming in costume and with props, ala ROCKY HORROR) around the world and the countless professional and amateur productions that crop up every year, as well as the glitzy Carnegie Hall concert on Monday, THE SOUND OF MUSIC has never gone out of style - it shall forever remain sixteen, even when the show itself is not too far away from hitting sixty.
Till You Find Your Dream
The story of the Von Trapp Family Singers was as unlikely source material as any other of the risky and edgy endeavors that Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein set out to create over the course of their years of collaboration, if not even more so. Sure, it ultimately became a story about a family of singers, but the musical itself ultimately depicts everything leading up to that time and not anything after it. The closest we get in THE SOUND OF MUSIC to the family sharing an actual stage in song as they did in concert halls and variety shows in real life is Captain Von Trapp's "Edelweiss", and, as we know, that is not a moment remembered for its warm and fuzzy feel - lest we forget it occurs at a benefit for the Nazi forces. The simple fact that so many associate THE SOUND OF MUSIC with the maudlin and more saccharine of entertainments evidences that while many may be familiar with the piece through scenes or songs, the actual experience of the show onstage or the film in full is a far cry from three hours of "So Long, Farewell". The fact that Julie Andrews brings such an effervescent, impossibly charming lilt to the role of Maria while still giving it dramatic depth and generous gravitas is one of the many features that make the Robert Wise film version a respected classic - in addition to the superlative new songs added for the film by Rodgers as composer/lyricist ("I Have Confidence" and "Something Good" being stupendous additions to the score). Mary Martin's original take on the role was a bit more robust and bossy, yet she still won our hearts by the final reprise of "Lonely Goatherd". More recently, the Susan Shulman-directed Broadway revival starring Rebecca Luker and Michael Siberry (later, Laura Benanti and Richard Chamberlin) interpolated the new songs written for the film and made other tweaks reflecting the arguably superior entity bearing the title THE SOUND OF MUSIC - as did Andrew Lloyd Webber's lavishly produced and successful reality show-cast-Maria-starring production in 2008 in the UK. After all, the show was perfected on the silver screen and the subsequent productions since then have slowly become more aligned with the intentions expressed in that iteration - to the overall benefit of the show, more often than not. The audience comes in with certain expectations as far as this piece is concerned - particularly since the film is so iconic and respected on its own grounds as a feature film (not unlike another Best Picture Oscar-winner from the early 1960s, WEST SIDE STORY). At Monday's Carnegie Hall concert, the entire score will be presented - the basic score (including the two songs cut from the film for the characters of Max and Elsa, the Baroness, "How Can Love Survive" and "No Way To Stop It"), as well as the beloved film songs. However you like your SOUND OF MUSIC - original Broadway version, film version, stage revival version or sing-a-long - we can all agree it is one of the most heart-warming and emotionally effective Broadway musicals ever written with a score sure to last for many more years; more than sixteen or even sixty, for that matter.
First up, let's take a listen to the original Broadway cast recording starring Mary Martin with the title song, complete with original lyrical introduction.
Listen to a rare performance capture clip of the original 1959 Broadway production of THE SOUND OF MUSIC below.
Check out this clip from WHAT'S MY LINE featuring the original Broadway cast of the show positively perplexing the panel with their presence.
Now, here is a clip from the 1960 Tony Awards and Robert Morse presenting the category for Best Featured Actress with Patricia Neway winning for her portrayal of the Mother Abbess. Following that, stay tuned for a live capture of her performing the thrilling Act One Finale in a 1961 performance.
Without further ado, take in the sights, sounds and spectacle of the original trailer for the 1965 film version here.
See a mod Julie Andrews at the 1965 Academy Awards ceremony here.
Following the huge international success of the film adaptation, audiences were offered the chance to visit the actual locations in Austria where the film was shot in the appropriately named THE SOUND OF MUSIC TOUR. Here is the trailer.
Moving to 1972, here is Julie Andrews sharing the screen with the actual real-life Maria Von Trapp herself in this fascinating clip taken from THE Julie Andrews HOUR.
Sample the 1998 Broadway revival of THE SOUND OF MUSIC led by Rebecca Luker as introduced by Rosie O'Donnell on that year's Tony Awards broadcast here.
Next we have Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer discussing the film version of THE SOUND OF MUSIC on THE ROSIE O'DONNELL show in 2000.
Andrew Lloyd Webber's reality series centered on casting the central role of THE SOUND OF MUSIC was aptly titled HOW DO YOU SOLVE A PROBLEM LIKE MARIA? and you can take a peek at the final stage production starring Connie Stevens in this clip of the casting show's title.
Enjoy the 2006 West End revival cast at the 2006 Royal Variety Performance with a medley of notable show hits.
Following that, don't miss this entertaining SOUND OF MUSIC film cast reunion from THE TODAY SHOW in 2005.
Here is the film cast celebrating the 45th anniversary of the film version of THE SOUND OF MUSIC on THE TODAY SHOW in 2012 and sharing their insights into the experience of creating perhaps the finest family film musical ever made.
Lastly, here is the trailer for the stunning Blu-ray edition of THE SOUND OF MUSIC film. A must-own.
As a special bonus, here is a clip from JULIE & CAROL AT Carnegie Hall showing Julie Andrews and Carol Burnett doing a hilarious and loving musical parody of THE SOUND OF MUSIC in this "The Pratt Family Singers" sketch. Perfection.
So, what version of THE SOUND OF MUSIC is your favorite and why - the original Broadway version, the feature film or the revised stage revival? Furthermore, what is the SOUND OF MUSIC earworm that is your favorite musical thing of all - such a difficult choice! Whoever the Maria, THE SOUND OF MUSIC has so much joy, drama, fun and heartwarming worth as not only a stage piece and a movie musical, but a cultural touchstone.