HERE ON THE BIG ISLAND – On Stage, “The Sound of Music” Is More Than Just Music

By Kelly Moran

On Stage, “The Sound of Music” Is More Than Just Music

“The Sound of Music” could be the most popular movie-musical ever made. It would be hard to find anyone who hasn’t seen it. Far fewer people have seen the stage version; but to see it on stage is to realize that there is much more to this famous musical than some memorable songs.

Sound of Music DVD Cover

Fortunately, the opportunity to see it on stage is coming right up: it’s this year’s Fall Musical at Hilo’s Palace Theater: playing at 7:00 p.m. on Friday and Saturday nights October 8, 9, 15, 16, 22 and 23, and at 2 p.m. on Sunday afternoons October 17 and 24. For more information and tickets, phone The Palace box office at 934-7010.

I asked my friend Hal Glatzer, a local playwright and musician who’s in the cast, to explain what makes the stage musical so different from the movie. Here’s what he told me:

I think most people know that the underlying story is true,” he said. “In Austria, in 1938, a young woman named Maria forsakes becoming a nun to be the governess to a widower’s seven children. Musically gifted, she encourages them to form a family singing group with their father, Georg von Trapp. He’s a Navy captain, an Austrian patriot who hates what is happening in Germany under Hitler; so, just as World War II begins, he and his family escape over the Alps into Switzerland.

For all its merits,” said Hal, “the movie glosses over the danger that these people faced in Europe in 1938, and the hard choices that they had to make. Watch, especially, two characters who were not prominent in the movie but are key elements of the drama on stage. Elsa Schraeder is a rich widow who everyone expects will marry Captain von Trapp. And Max Detweiller [whom Hal portrays] is the producer of an annual Austrian music festival. Both characters confront the Captain with the fundamental dilemma of the late 1930s: do you work with the Nazis, so your family can live in comfort? or do you defy the Nazis, risking prison and death?”

Thus,” Hal explained, “the stage version is literally more dramatic than the movie.” ¬†

But that said, what most people will come away with is the great pleasure of hearing Oscar Hammerstein’s poignant lyrics sung to Richard Rodgers’ beautiful music. The hills (and now the Palace Theater, too) are alive with “The Sound of Music.”

HERE ON THE BIG ISLAND – Sherlock Holmes at the Volcano

By Kelly Moran

Sherlock Holmes at the Volcano

Sherlock Holmes once visited the Big Island – and now he’s coming back!

Holmes was an early crime-scene investigator. Keen-eyed and sharp-witted, this most famous of fictional detectives solved murders that baffled the police of the Victorian era by focusing on seemingly insignificant clues. Would we have “C.S.I.” on TV today without having first seen Holmes tracing footprints, or examining threads, pebbles and fingerprints with a magnifying glass?

Though based in London, he visited the Kingdom of Hawaii in November of 1890 with his friend and biographer Dr. John Watson. It was supposed to be a restful vacation at the Volcano House, but they found themselves confronted by a mysterious calamity of madness and murder with supernatural overtones, that came to be known as “The Volcano Horror.” To discover the cause, and to identify the killer, they had to take a dangerous plunge into a realm of terror and death, right there on the edge of the crater!

This all happens in a stage play written, produced and directed by my friend Hal Glatzer, referencing one of the short stories by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

Sherlock Holmes & The Volcano Horror, March 4th, 5th, 6th, 12th & 13th at 7pm.
Sherlock Holmes & The Volcano Horror, March 4th, 5th, 6th, 12th & 13th at 7pm.

“Sherlock Holmes & The Volcano Horror” will be performed in the Theater at the East Hawaii Cultural Center, in downtown Hilo, at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Friday and Saturday March 4, 5 and 6; and at 7 p.m. on Friday and Saturday March 12 and 13. Tickets are $10 (EHCC members $8), and are available now from the EHCC Box Office: 935-9085.

Several of the actors also appeared in “The House Without A Key,” Glatzer’s Charlie Chan mystery, which was presented at EHCC a year ago, including Jake McPherson (as Holmes), and Steve Peyton (as Watson).

In Sherlock Holmes’s day, the Volcano House was a one-story log cabin, built in 1877, with a lanai on its long side and a big fireplace in the parlor.

Volcano House 1877

It could accommodate 35 guests, and was owned by Wilder’s Steamship Company, an inter-island line. Since there was only a trail to Kilauea from Hilo – not even a road – most visitors were tendered ashore at Honuapo, in Ka’u, and driven uphill in horse-drawn carriages. When a new Volcano House was built next door, in 1891, the old log cabin became an extra guest-wing.

In 1921, a grand 100-room hotel replaced them both on the rim of Halema’uma’u crater, and the 1877 building was moved a few hundred feet back from the edge, to be used only for storage. That was fortunate because, when a fire in 1940 destroyed the big Volcano House, the old building was spared, and was pressed into service as a lodge once more, until the current Volcano House was completed in 1941.

Old Volcano House
Old Volcano House

After that, the old building sat unused and deteriorating until the 1970s, when it was rescued by a team of historically-minded carpenters. They restored it to its original appearance, and made it into what it is today: the Volcano Art Center, in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. Go there now, and you can almost see Holmes and Watson talking and smoking by the fireplace, or sitting on their lanai, gazing out over the crater . . . .

The building that was used as the Volcano House Hotel from 1877 to 1921 now houses a gallery for the Volcano Art Center, in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.
The building that was used as the Volcano House Hotel from 1877 to 1921 now houses a gallery for the Volcano Art Center, in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.

I learned “The Story of the Volcano House” from a book of that name by Gunder E. Olson, that’s available in the Park’s gift-shop and at Basically Books, on the Bayfront in Hilo.

For more information about “Sherlock Holmes & The Volcano Horror,” phone Hal at 808-895-4816 or email him at