Three stars and an assortment of nuns and Nazis from the original
Broadway company of Rodgers and Hammerstein's last show, The Sound of Music assembled at Lincoln Center's Barnes & Noble on Nov. 16 — 50 years to the day that show opened at the Lunt-Fontanne — and celebrated the milestone by signing CDs of the anniversary original cast recording and a pop-up book inspired by the musical.
Brian Davies and Lauri Peters — who played the show's young lovers, "16 going on 17," Rolf Gruber and Liesl von Trapp — were reunited, and, when Theodore Bikel, the original Captain von Trapp, showed up, he proposed they sing "60 going on 70."
Davies, who turned 71 on Nov. 15, still acts in features ("The Age of Innocence") and on TV ("Law and Order"). Peters, 66 on the 4th of July, married — for five years — Davies' replacement, Jon Voight. In 1993, she founded the Sanford Meisner Extension at NYU, where she is artistic director and master teacher.
Peters' memory of the show's star, Mary Martin, was that she set such a standard of professional behavior and anything less wasn't tolerated "regardless of your age or the size of your role. It wasn't as off-putting as it sounds because she was really warm and funny and kind and generous, but, professionally, it was that her work mattered to her. She respected the audience and the work. That was the way it was."
Davies remembered playing the Nazi-youth messenger boy with such gusto that he rode his bicycle right off the stage into the orchestra pit. "I got a call to come to Miss Martin's dressing room. And she told me about the time when she was doing cartwheels in South Pacific and landed in the orchestra pit herself. She did that to make me feel better."
Bikel, a robust 85 currently performing Sholom Aleichem: Laughter Through Tears Off-Broadway — recalled a hilarious backstage visit from Zsa Zsa Gabor, moved to a mascara-running state by the show's ending: "She said, 'Dolink, this escaping over the mountain — this is the story of my life — Mamma, Eva, Magda, over the mountain.' I said, 'What are you talking about? When you were 15 years old, a Turkish diplomat married you and took you out of Hungary on the Orient Express!' She said, 'It doesn't matter. It's my story!'"
— Harry Haun