A Favorite Thing: Hit London Sound of Music Revival Opens in Toronto Oct. 15

News   A Favorite Thing: Hit London Sound of Music Revival Opens in Toronto Oct. 15
 
The North American premiere of the recent Andrew Lloyd Webber-produced London revival of The Sound of Music opens in Toronto Oct. 15 following previews from Oct. 3.
The Sound of Music star Elicia MacKenzie
The Sound of Music star Elicia MacKenzie Photo by Cylla von Tiedemann

As in London, the "Maria" was cast in a reality TV competition. At the Princess of Wales Theatre in Toronto, newcomer Elicia MacKenzie — who won the CBC-TV audition "How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria?" — plays governess Maria von Trapp opposite Broadway veteran Burke Moses (Beauty and the Beast, The Frogs, Kiss Me, Kate) as Capt. von Trapp.

Members of the Rodgers & Hammerstein Organization, the Rodgers and Hammerstein family and the von Trapp family are expected to be in attendance for the splashy opening.

The Jeremy Sams-directed cast of 51, previously announced by producers Andrew Lloyd Webber, David Ian and David Mirvish, includes Noëlla Huet as the Mother Abbess; Stratford Festival vet Keith Dinicol as Max; Shaw Festival, Stratford and Toronto Mamma Mia! alumnus Blythe Wilson as the Baroness; Megan Nuttall, a recent graduate of the University of Western Ontario, as Liesl; Jeff Irving as Rolf; Jennie Such as Sister Sophia; Mary-Ellen Mahoney as Sister Margaretta; Jayne Lewis as Sister Berte; John Robinson as Admiral von Schreiber; Denise Oucharek as Frau Zeller; James Kall as Franz; Deborah Overes as Frau Schweiger; Brigitte Robinson as Frau Schmidt; and Warren Kimmel as Herr Zeller.

Director Sams is currently represented on Broadway with the musical 13.

The Sound of Music, with music by Richard Rodgers, lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II and book by Howard Lindsay and Russel Crouse (suggested by "The Trapp Family Singers" by Maria Augusta Trapp), is one of the most popular musicals of all time. The fact-inspired tale concerns a novice who leaves an Austrian abbey to be the governess for the children of a widower, restoring joy and music in their lives. The Sound of Music bowed on Broadway in 1959 and won the Tony Award for Best Musical in 1960. Mary Martin won the Tony as Best Actress in a Musical. It was Hammerstein's final Broadway show; he died during the run, in August 1960. The film starring Julie Andrews won the Best Picture Academy Award in 1965.

The musical was revived on Broadway in 1998, in a production directed by Susan Schulman, who borrowed songs and elements from the film (the movie's "Something Good" and "I Have Confidence," with lyrics and music by Rodgers, for example, were interpolated).

Blythe Wilson and Burke Moses in The Sound of Music
photo by Cylla von Tiedemann

The Toronto and London productions also offer "Something Good" (replacing the ironic R & H number, "Ordinary Couple," one of the last lyrics Hammerstein wrote for the the original Broadway version) and "I Have Confidence." This revival's script, however, adheres more closely to the 1959 version — so, "My Favorite Things" is an Act One scene between Maria and the Mother Abbess, and "The Lonely Goatherd" is the song sung with the children, in Maria's bedroom. Producer Lloyd Webber has said in interviews that he had no interest in putting the film version on stage.

The score also includes the salty, cynical numbers for Max, Elsa and the Captain: "No Way to Stop It" and "How Can Love Survive?"

The Sound of Music score also includes "Do-Re-Mi," "Edelweiss," "Climb Every Mountain," "Sixteen Going On Seventeen," "Maria," the title song and "So Long, Farewell."

The rest of the Toronto von Trapp children, who are double-cast, with each performing four shows per week, consist of (oldest to youngest): Frederich, played by Spencer Walker and Simeon Vivian; Louisa, played by Emily Hawton and Michaela Snoyer; Kurt, played by Michael Murphy and Matthew Tissi; Brigitta, played by Libby Adams and Ana Golja; Marta, played by Camden Angelis and Addison Holley; and Gretl, played by Mia Vanwyck-Smart and Amariah Faulkner.

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The ensemble includes Marianne Bindig, Josée Boudreau, Patrick Cook, Ian Farthing, Stephen Findlay, Neil Foster, Nigel Hamer, Megan Latham, Doug MacLeod, Janet Martin, Frayne McCarthy, Anwyn Musico, Ann O'Kane, Imali Perera, Louie Rosetti, Ted Simonett, Ashley Taylor, Deborah Tennant, Carrie Wiebe, Denise Williams, Andrea Wingelaar and Seana-Lee Wood.

Leading the cast in the role of Maria is newcomer MacKenzie, who will perform the role six times a week, alternating with Janna Polzin, another popular contestant on the TV program (she'll perform twice weekly).

The production at Toronto's Princess of Wales is overseen by the same, award-winning creative team as in London: director Jeremy Sams, choreographer Arlene Philips and designer Robert Jones.

In 2006, producers Lloyd Webber and Ian opened a new production of The Sound of Music at the London Palladium (also starring a reality TV series winner). It was the first major revival in London since the West End premiere in 1961.

The Princess of Wales Theatre 300 King Street West. For more information, visit www.soundofmusiccanada.com.

Elicia MacKenzie (left) and the cast of <i>The Sound of Music</i>
Elicia MacKenzie (left) and the cast of The Sound of Music Photo by Cylla von Tiedemann
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