Sound of Music Director’s Note

Sound of Music Directors Page

Ernie Ford started at PCPH by playing the role of Ticky in The Nerd during the 1992 season. He reprised the role in the 2003 production. He has been in such shows as The Music Man, Play On, The Rainmaker, and The Odd Couple. Ernie has directed plays and musicals including I Remember Mama, Cheaper by the Dozen, Fiddler on the Roof, and Our Town.

Important information from the director to those auditioning for “The Sound of Music”:

Performance Dates: June 1,2,3,4,(a matinee), 7,8,9,10.

Rehearsals will begin Wednesday, April 12. Generally, rehearsals will be each weeknight beginning at 7 p.m. No rehearsals are planned for weekends at this time.

This is a play with a large cast but with very specific age and gender requirements. Most of the cast will be expected to sing well and dance some. There are a few non-singing and dancing roles for males in the play, and there are seven specific roles for children. All of the children must be able to sing well, and we will require some dancing of them. You MUST have a song prepared to sing during the audition unless you are only auditioning for the non-singing male parts. Anyone auditioning for the Mother Superior must be prepared to sing “Climb Every Mountain.”

Almost everyone sings in the play, and there are an unusually large number of roles which feature either solos or duets, but most of the music will be familiar to you.

We do not expect professional dancing skill, but it would be nice if you could move your feet without falling over them. Sherry Hedge will nurse you along, both at the audition and in rehearsal.

The Roles in “Sound of Music”

There are large number of roles in “Sound of Music”: Here they are:

— Maria Rainer, a postulate at Nonnberg Abby.

— The Mother Abbess. Usually an older women with a stunning voice. We can age just about anyone over 21, however.

— Sister Berthe, Mistress of Novices.

— Sister Sophia

— Sister Margaretta, Mistress of Postulants

— Captain George Von Trapp. Must look at least between 40 and 60. Does far more singing in this production than one might think.

— Franz, the butler (a non-singing role)

— Frau Schmidt, the housekeeper (another non-singing role)

— The children of Captain Von Trapp

–Liesl, age 16

–Friedrich, age 14

–Louisa, age 13

–Kurt, age 10

–Brigitta, age 9

–Marta, age 7

–Gretl, the youngest (4-6)

(A note about the children: I expect casting of the children to be especially difficult. The children must look age appropriate and we must have 5 girls and 2 boys. Height, weight and other physical characteristics will be taken into consideration because the must look like a family. It is possible, if you are cast, that you will have to dye your hair or rearrange the style to fit in with the rest of the children)

— Rolf Gruber, 17 (Liesl’s boyfriend for a while. Actor’s hair will almost have to be blonde, which means if it’s not your natural color, we’ll have to change it.)

— Elsa Schreder, the baroness. (should look between 35 and 50. Although she never sings in the movie, she does in the play.)

— Ursula (a French maid with a very small role)

— Max Detweiler, the impresario, between 30 and 75. (Like the baroness, never sings in the movie but does in the play.)

— Herr Zeller (a non-singing role)

— Baron Eberfeld (a non-singing role)

— Admiral von Schreiber (another non-singing role, but gets to wear a very fancy uniform)

— A chorus of nuns and postulants, who will form what is in essence the chorus for this play, age 15 and up.

— Other neighbors of the Von Trapps, male and female, although some of these female roles could be played by those cast as nuns.

— Contest winners (one, a trio of church singers, can be male or female. The runnerup is usually a plump woman who has a wonderful but short comic turn)

The Story of Sound of Music

Most of you know the story. It is set in the days just before World War II, when the powerful Nazi Germany is making noises about invading Austria, the birthplace of German’s leader, Adolph Hitler. Against this backdrop, a would-be nun, Maria, is sent to the family of Captain Georg Von Trapp, an Austrian military hero whose wife has died, to care for his seven children. Along the way, she becomes fast friends to the suspicious children and begins to have feelings for the captain. The captain, however, is courting the widow of one Baron Schaeder, who was a powerful businessman from Venice, Austria’s capital city. The Baroness, however, was really the brains behind the business and is wealthy in her own right.

She is often accompanied by Max Detwieler, described as third minister of culture in Austria. This fellow, part con-man part talent agent, is in the area recruiting talent for an important local festival in the nearby town of Salzberg. He is capitivated by the children, who have been taught to sing by Maria, and wants to enter them in the festival. The captain refuses.

Once Maria recognizes her love for the captain, she flees and runs back home to the abbey, where the Mother Abbess convokes her that if she was meant to be a wife instead of a nun, that is part of God’s plan. She returns to the Captain’s house, only to discover that he is engaged to marry the baroness.

But the Nazi invasion is growing closer, and the captain, Austrian through and through, refuses to bow to those who want Austria to capitulate without a fight. This eventually leads to a fatal difference of opinion with the baroness, and they decide not to marry. The captain, in short order, realizes his love for Maria, and they marry. The Nazis invade Austria without a drop of blood being spilled, and when they return from their honeymoon, the captain is ordered to report to the German navy immediately.

While the couple is away, the scheming Max enters the children in the contest. When the captain realizes that he must enter the Navy or face arrest, he agrees the children can perform and he and Maria also agree to participate. When the contest ends and the winners are announced (the Von Trapp family wins, of course) they are nowhere to be found. The hide in the Abbey, but a young boy named Rolfe, who was Liesl’s first love, finds them. He lies to his superiors and tells them there’s no one there. The family begins its long journey over the Austrian Alps, the mountains where Maria spent her childhood, to freedom in Switzerland.

Some Background About the Musical

The Sound of Music is one of the most famous of the musicals written by Oscar Hammerstein II and Richard Rodgers. It premiered on Broadway Nov. 16, 1959 and ran for 1,443 performances, the second longest running musical ever produced on the day it closed. It starred Mary Martin, a famous musical theatre star at the time, as Maria and Theodore Bikel, a prominent musical comedy star and folksinger, as the Captain.

The production was nominated for eight Tonys that year and won six, including, including best musical, best book, best score, best actress (Mary Martin) and best supporting actress (Patricia Neway, who played the baroness).

A London production opened in 1961 and ran for more than 2300 performances, and the original was revived on Broadway in 1998 and ran for 15 months before going on national tour. The production has been staged in many nations around the world, but made it’s debut in Austria, where it all takes place, just two years ago. Except as a tourist attraction, the musical is almost unknown there.

The fame of Sound of Music was cemented in American cultural history in 1965 when the film was released starring Julie Andrews as Maria and Christopher Plummer as the captain. It was a huge hit and still ranks in the top 10 grossing movies of all time. It won the Oscar as best picture. Oscar Hammerstein died before the movie was made and Rodgers wrote two songs for the movie that aren’t in the play: I Have Confidence and Something Good. We have obtained permission from the licensing company to also add these songs to our production.

Some Interesting Trivia

  • Christopher Plummer, a noted dramatic actor, hated working with children and hated the script. During filming, he called in The Sound of Mucus. He has since softened his stand.
  • Many people believe “Edelweiss” to be a traditional Austrian song, or even the national anthem. In fact the song was written for the musical and is little known in Austria.
  • The musical itself is virtually unknown in the country, except in backpacker’s hostels in Salzburg, where it is screened daily on DVD. The Ländler dance that Maria and the Captain shared was not performed the traditional way it is done in Austria.
  • “I Have Confidence” is a song that Rodgers wrote as a “bridge”, needed in the movie to get Maria from the convent to the Von Trapp manor (as he explained). During that segment, at one point Julie Andrews passes under an archway. As pointed out in one of the DVD’s extras, the real Maria, one of her daughters, and one of her daughters (Maria’s granddaughter) can be seen starting to cross the road at that point. The von Trapps arrived on set that day and director Wise offered them this walk-on role. It has also been reported that Andrews tripped at one point during the filming, a moment the editors left in because it seemed to fit the character.
  • The order of several of the songs is markedly different between the stage play and the film, thanks to the screenwriting of Ernest Lehman. One example is that in the play, “My Favorite Things” is sung at the convent, whereas in the movie it is sung to the children. A couple of the songs were altered. “How Can Love Survive?” (which did not fit the flow of the movie very well) was reduced to an instrumental, one of several waltz numbers played at the party occurring just before intermission. The title song’s four-line prelude (“My day in the hills has come to an end, I know…”), sung by Mary Martin in the stage play, is reduced to an instrumental hint during the overture and dramatic zoom-in shot to Julie Andrews on the mountaintop at the start of the movie.
  • Despite the enormous popularity of the movie, which at the time became the largest grossing picture of all time, noted film critic Pauline Kael blasted the film in a review in which she called the movie “The Sound Of Money.” This review allegedly led to Kael’s being fired from her position as a film critic.
  • The Sound of Music became the highest grossing film of all time in December 1965, when it beat Gone With the Wind by slightly less than one million dollars. The Sound of Music remained the highest grossing film of all time, until 1970 when Gone With the Wind was rereleased and it became #1 again. After that, several films (The Godfather, Jaws, etc) have pushed The Sound of Music further down on the list.
  • In 2001 the United States Library of Congress deemed the film “culturally significant” and selected it for preservation in the National Film Registry.
  • According to boxofficemojo, the film ranks third in both all-time number of tickets sold (142,415,400) and in gross adjusted for inflation ($911,458,400) in North America (behind Gone with the Wind and Star Wars) Combine this with its success around the world in sales of tickets, videocassettes, laserdiscs, DVDs and its frequent airings on television, it is called “the most widely seen movie produced by a Hollywood studio” by