30 May 2015

Musicals series: The Sound Of Music

Well, I said in the introduction post that I shall write the first Musicals series post soonish, by which I meant in about three weeks when I have an empty spot in my post schedule. But as you can see, I changed my mind and decided to write this post already straight away after the introduction post. Call me fickle minded. Anyways, it is my blog and I write what feels best at the time and reschedule my posts as I like.

So, here we go now with the first post in the Musicals series:

Wikipedia: The Sound Of Music musical
THE SOUND OF MUSIC, ladies and gentlemen.

This is based on the movie version, since I have never seen the musical live. I try to avoid spoilers, even though it is 50 years old movie.

Like I said in the introduction post, this first musical featured will be my favourite musical of all time and also one of my favourite movies of all time. I first watched the movie in primary school, but back then I was too young to understand the story and honestly I was still more into children's movies than complicated adult stuff (do not get me wrong: The Sound Of Music is a family movie, but the storyline may be a bit confusing and disinteresting for children). At more mature age (okay, I was a teenager, but still) I started to really appreciate the movie. I do not really have a favourite movie, but if asked The Sound Of Music is my most likely answer.

Of course we shall start with the iconic movie opening: the title song The Sound Of Music.

The story of The Sound Of Music is based on a true story of an Austrian family of von Trapps. The main character Maria (played by the wonderful Julie Andrews in the movie) is a young novice at a Salzburgian nunnery. She is not seen as fitting into the life of a nun and the mother abbess sends her to became a governess to Captain von Trapps seven children. After the Captain's wife died, he has hold a strict order in the household, which does not suit young Maria's set of mind. The children do not get along with Maria at first, but soon they warm up to her and they are discovered to be talented singers. And of course there is few romances to mix up the pack.

There was actually a singing family von Trapp in Salzburg and many of the things that happen in the musical are based on the memoir of real Maria von Trapp. Obviously it is not entire accurate for drama reasons, but overall it is fairly realistic. After what happened in the end of the musical, the family moved to the United States and kept on performing there. The real von Trapp children seem to have a gene for singing since some of their descendants have become singers too.

My Favorite Things. Hmm.. what would be MY favourite things to sing about...

Even though the characters are based on real people, I doubt they are very realistic impressions. I have at least read that the real Captain von Trapp was not so strict and gloomy person. But it does make into a more interesting character. The children do not show that much of a personality, besides the eldest one Liesl, and rather blend into a one mess. Character-wise the movie (and musical I believe) focuses on Maria, Captain von Trapp and Liesl. Rest of characters do not have much of character development, which on the other hand is good since that would make the story too complicated.

Since the story is based on true events, it also offers interesting view of the time. The story happen in the late-1930s, when the World War II was already going on. Obviously as an Austrian naval captain, Captain von Trapp is drawn into all this and the WWII plays an important part in the storyline. The Austrian culture and Catholicism add interesting elements to the movie.

Sixteen Going On Seventeen: a teenage romance with a very classic song and a very classic dance scene. 

Even though the story is highly interesting, the best part of the musical is definitely the music. I absolutely love pretty much every single song in the movie (I believe there are couple more in the actual musical) and they are one of the only few ones that I listen to frequently outside watching the movie. I actually have couple of the songs on my iPod. Lyrically and musically the songs are brilliant and the actors did great job singing them. I think the biggest catch of The Sound Of Music is the music; the lyrics are catchy and fun, composition too.

The composer of the music was Richard Rodgers and the lyrics were written by Oscar Hammerstein II, whom both were big names in the musical scene. Many of the songs from the musical have become classics and you can often hear people prefer to them in a regular conversation; In particular the song My Favorite Things has a status of a legendary song. The beginning of the title song The Sound Of Music with the opening of the movie are very well-known and often joked about. The song Edelweiss is sometimes thought to be Austria's national anthem (it is not), because of the power it possesses in the musical.

Wise words from the Mother Abbess: Climb Ev'ry Mountain. This is my favourite song from the musical.

The success of The Sound Of Music has been huge; The musical has had productions all around the world (perhaps not in Africa, but other continents at least) and it has won multiple awards, including a Tony for Best Musical. The movie too has had huge success: When it was released it became the highest-grossing film ever. They even hold major viewings of the movie and people take the movie very enthusiastically.

Why do I like it so much? Well, if I did not praise the music already enough here I go again: I absolutely adore the music. Besides the amazing music, I seriously like the story and would love the movie even if it was not a musical. I love history and I find that the movie has been produced well to describe the time. Obviously I have no idea how all the elements play out on stage, but with such an interesting story and magnificent music it must be great. Did I already mention that I love the music?

An obvious choice for the last song: So Long, Farewell.

It seems that this post expanded way beyond what I meant to, and I still would have lots and lots to say. I just love the movie/musical so much and find all things related to it highly fascinating. I do not go crazy overboard with being a fan of a movie, but with The Sound Of Music there is a major chance of that. I do not know how many times I have watched the movie, but I never get bored of it and if I could ever see only one musical live my selection would be obvious (The Lion King would be a close second, since I am highly intrigued on how that works as a musical).

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