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.”