WHO IS NOT familiar with Julie Andrews’ movie The Sound of Music? The lines “The hills are alive, with the sound of music” and “I am sixteen going on seventeen” are ingrained in many a listener’s brains. The song “Do Re Mi” (“Doe a deer, a female deer”) has been used many times to teach the basic notes of music.
While one can always see the movie version, Manila audiences will have a chance to see the stage musical thanks to Lunchbox Theatrical Productions and Concertus Manila who are bringing the London West End production of The Sound of Music to Solaire.
The partner producers already have an excellent track record when it comes to knowing what will tickle the Filipino’s fancy when it comes to musical – through the years they have brought in Wicked, The Phantom of the Opera, Mamma Mia!, Chicago, Cats, and We Will Rock You. The question to ask, then, is if the stage musical can deliver something as iconic as the original movie.
To find the six younger Von Trapp children (the roles are cast in each of the touring production’s stops), an audition was held which attracted over 400 hopeful young actors. Jonny Bowles, the children’s director, came from London to oversee three days’ worth of acting, singing, and dancing tests. They ended up with three alternates per role, choosing 18 of the best child actors they could find.
Meanwhile, the lead role of Maria – the novice nun who becomes the governess of a widower’s wild brood of children, capturing their, and their father’s heart, at the cusp of world War II – falls to Carmen Pretorius of South Africa. At age 16, the actress toured Japan and Singapore as a vocalist for the nonprofit organization, Faith Harmony. She has since performed in several musicals including Footloose The Musical, Mamma Mia!, Cabaret, and Jersey Boys. She has also appeared in three South African TV series.
Ms. Pretorius was no stranger to the staged version of The Sound of Music she had earlier played Liezl Von Trapp, the eldest of the Von Trapp children (and the singer of “Sixteen Going on Seventeen”), and was nominated for Best Actress in a Musical in the 2015 Fleur de Cap Theatre Awards for her work. Ms. Pretorius has acknowledged that this experience prepared her for eventually taking on the role of Maria.
At the recent the press conference for The Sound of Music, 16 of the 18 child actors performed “The Hills are Alive” with Ms. Pretorius. The children – who range in age from 16 to six – seemed very well-trained. They were focused on the task at hand: no giggling, no horseplay. They were able to get their counterpoint singing in sync: they would not have been able to do that if they were not disciplined in their rehearsals.
As the children’s voices faded and Ms. Pretorius began to sing solo, all the children looked at her with full and honest smiles, suggesting that they would have good chemistry with her once the main show goes onstage.
Ms. Pretorius performed perfectly in both pitch and the difficult art of dynamics, wowing everybody in the room with her well-chosen crescendos and diminuendos.
While she does speak with a hint of her South African-Dutch (Afrikaans) accent, Pretorius sings perfectly fine. – Gideon Isidro
The Sound of Music runs from Sept. 27 to Oct. 15 at The Theatre at Solaire, Solaire Resort & Casino, 1 Aseana Ave., Entertainment City, Parañaque City. Tickets, priced from P1,500 to P7,000, are available through TicketWorld (www.ticketworld.com.ph, 891-999).