Tuesday, December 10, 2013


I just watched Sound of Music Live, Click here for the website. This is my review of it.
In a Nutshell: if you forget that the story takes place in 1938 Austria, and ignore all the political and social issues surrounding that time period, it’s a pretty good production.

That’s not a hater comment or sarcasm either. In fact, I think the acting is sound, the pacing impeccable, and the arrangement of musical numbers a very wise choice.

If you are looking to watch a period piece, however, look elsewhere. In order to fully enjoy Sound of Music Live, I had to completely take it out of context in my mind. Instead, I had to think of it as a retelling of a fairytale. This play worked well as complete fiction.

For example, I had to forget that the color of Mother Abbess’s skin would never have been so dark. Again, I’m not being racist or sarcastic. I think Audra McDonald was an excellent choice based on her acting and singing. As long as I pretended that this story was never true, I could truly appreciate her talents. If ever I remembered that this was supposed to be 1938 Austria, the story was unbelievable.
For another example, I point to Frau Shrader. As a fairytale, I could believe her to be the president of her own corporation. I could picture her owning a plane. As a possible fiancĂ© of Captain Von Trap, she was a gross anachronism.   

On the other hand, I did like how all the sets could have easily come from Beauty and the Beast. I’m guessing that the Von Trap Mansion was the Beast’s Ballroom with a couch and his Balcony with an added fountain. The Beast’s Library and that “scary” Hallway seem to have been transformed into an Abby and the mountainous woods could have been those same woods through which wolves chased Beauty. Perhaps the sets were borrowed? If so, that would be awesome.
The costumes and hair were subtly stylized from the late 1940’s, perfect for this fairytale version of Sound of Music. It reminds me of the way King Arthur’s time is so often portrayed, grossly out of whack from the Medieval period. To me, this was another indication of how this play should be viewed and enjoyed.   

Ironically, this freshly-labeled “Live” production actually used some classic filming techniques. One very classic technique was the placement of furniture and blocking of actors to mimic the stage. Also, extra stagy dialogue and set transitions reminded the viewer that this was a “stage production,” though the camera always had a wider viewing angle than your average theatre audience. These stage-on-film techniques have been used since the black and white days, when film was expensive and when scenes taken in a single shot were desirable.
Would I recommend watching this production? Well, I would NOT recommend it to my hubby, or any of my wonderfully anal historian friends. Too many elements would bug them to death. I MIGHT recommend it to my friends who are too young to know the story, as long they promised to read the book and not judge it by the movie. I WOULD recommend it to my quirky theatrical and drama buff friends, because they would enjoy it for what it is.