by Catherine Blanch.
No matter how many times they may have watched the movie or seen a live theatrical production, you will be hard-pressed to find someone who doesn’t like The Sound Of Music. Inspired by the actual von Trapp family and starring Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer, The Sound Of Music tells the story of the widowed Captain von Trapp and his seven children and the fun-loving governess who changes their lives forever.
Celebrating its 50th Anniversary, this timeless piece returns to the Festival Theatre stage in 2016 with an all-star Australian cast including Cameron Daddo, Marina Prior and Lorraine Bayly.
We speak with Cameron on the eve of rehearsals, and suggest The Sound Of Music is one of history’s most adored movies.
“Many people will agree with you there,” he begins. “To me, you could argue that it is the best musical ever. It has everything; great songs, great story, drama, tension, humour and love.”
Not to mention a bit of curtain wearing.
“Yes,” Cameron laughs, “and some lonely goat-herding.”
The role of Maria is performed by Amy Lehpamer (Once, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels). Although they have sung Edelweiss for various functions, this will be their first show performing together. We ask Cameron if this play was one he had on his bucket list to perform.
“Actually, it wasn’t on my radar at all. So, I was quite surprised when John Frost rang me and asked if I was interested. Of course, I said yes straight away, partly because of the iconic status of it but also for the great opportunity to play Captain von Trapp to today’s generation of Australians. It’s really exciting –an honour and a privilege.”
Do you feel as if the Director will allow you to create your own version of the Captain, or do you need to stick to a strict formula?
“No, I get the sense that it’s really up to me how I go about it,” he says. “Yet, that said, it’s always going to be different when someone plays any role because you are bringing your soul and your spirit to that part. The circumstances are what make it similar, and I can’t go out and play that part of it differently. I’m performing the same set of problems as every previous Captain von Trapp, but it will be me dealing with those same set of circumstances in that way that I would deal with it. He still has that whole emotional detachment from the children – and himself – and then to have that moment where the music awakens his heart through Maria. I’m not sure how that is all going to evolve as yet, but it’s exciting and scary and fun.”
Do you have a favourite part of the movie?
“I do. It’s that moment when the children appear from the boat, dripping wet and dressed in the curtains,” Cameron says. “The Captain sends them off to get changed and has that argument with Maria where she really sticks it to him [laughs]. Then he hears singing and asks who it is, and she says ‘It’s your children.’
“That moment is massive because it’s when his whole heart just opens up and he questions what he has been doing all along. He’s a man who loved music; he used to play guitar and violin and loved to sing, but he stopped because it made him sad – reminding him of his late wife. He looks at Liesl and she reminds him of his wife, so it’s a lot easier for him to treat them like a submarine crew. But in that moment, when he hears the music, all of those repressed emotions come up and his heart just explodes with love.”
Knowing how you feel about that moment, it will be interesting to see you perform it.
“Being a Dad, I can relate to moments like that; they are important. I’ve spent an inordinate amount of time away from my wife and kids, touring and working, so I know what it’s like. There can be a lot of moments where you have missed things, like birthdays or school sporting moments, which are all parts of those relationships between a child and a parent.
“That’s the other thing that I like – the depth of the story. You can look at it on a superficial level or on a deep emotional level; there’s something for everyone there.”
The Sound Of Music was the first movie my grandmother saw in a cinema, and it continues to offer something to each following generation.
“I was thinking this the other day,” Cameron says. “I was born in 1965, which was only 20 years after WWII finished. Twenty years ago I moved to the US. So I can look at how I am affected by moments that happened 20 years ago and realise that it is not really that long ago in the scheme of things. Much of what happened in this show is still relevant today as it ever was because there are still families running across hills to escape military oppressors.”
The Sound Of Music features an unforgettable Rogers and Hammerstein musical score that includes some of the most famous songs ever performed on stage, including, Edelweiss, Climb Ev’ry Mountain, Do-Re-Mi, Sixteen Going On Seventeen, My Favourite Things, The Lonely Goatherd and, of course, The Sound Of Music.
“Those music and harmonies have been ingrained in all of us,” Cameron says. “They immediately hit an internal chord.”
Cameron explains that this totally Australian cast is a production that was reworked for the London Palladium.
“Producers Andrew Lloyd Webber, John Frost, David Ian and the Really Useful Group have mounted a few different productions, which have included Singapore and Toronto – the Australian cast are working from the latter. Starting in Sydney, the show will then move to Brisbane, Melbourne and then Adelaide in August 2016. At this point, Adelaide will be the final city. But I’ve seen these producers do things with Wicked and Rocky Horror where they will bring things back if they have done well, so who knows.”
Cameron is also excited about the cast he will be working with.
“I met the Sydney kids last week, but we will be using local kids when we come to Adelaide, which will help keep things fresh,” he says. “Lorraine Bayly is a real pro:she’s a lovely lady, very grounded, very professional and very dedicated. Put her with Marina Prior and we will be working with a well-studied cast. I’m really looking forward to it.”
The Sound Of Music performs at Festival Theatre, Adelaide Festival Centre, at various times on Tue 9 Aug until Sun 21 Aug.
Book at BASS on 131 246 and bass.net.au. Click HERE to purchase your tickets.
Images courtesy of Brian Geach