The Sound of Music was one of my favorite films growing up. Like many generations of children, the film became as cozy for me as sipping hot chocolate on a cold winter day. Julie Andrews represented the perfect adult figure many of us wanted to be when we grew up: charming, witty and compellingly real. As I grew older though, the political themes and underlying horror of The Sound of Music drew me back in.
Beneath the cheery children and the story of faith, there is a story of a world at war, Nazism, doubt, and ultimately standing up for what you know is right. When I spoke with Christopher Carl (Admiral von Schrieber and the understudy for Captain Georg VonTrapp & Max) these themes were on my mind more than ever. And I found they were also present on his mind too.
What makes The Sound of Music so brilliant is it’s ability to cater to both children and adults in it’s themes. And what I appreciate most about the musical today is it’s bravery in tackling such difficult and horrifying moments in our history with grace and care. As Carl says in our interview, we have to make a choice to climb that mountain and fight for what we know is right. In a year when we in the arts need hope more than ever, The Sound of Music feels uncompromisingly relevant.
The Sound of Music opens April 18 at the Orpheum Theatre.
This conversation has been edited for clarity and length.
Hi Christopher! Thanks for chatting with Baewatch. Is this your first time performing or visiting Memphis?
I actually have been to Memphis. My mom’s family is from Arkansas so I remember many trips from where we made the drive down and would stop in Memphis for a couple of days. Of course, we’d always have to stop and see the ducks at the Peabody.
The movie needs no introduction, but what can you tell us about the Broadway version that might surprise readers?
It’s been a while since The Sound of Music toured, at least twenty-five years. And it’s been three years since it closed on Broadway.
A few songs are different in the stage version. For example, there are songs that were omitted from the movie but give more clarity to the show. There are different songs that reflect the political climate at the time which were nixed from the film. You have a sense of this political in the play and as a result, it isn’t jarring to get this mega-villain. Jack O’Brien (the show’s director) really brought this to the forefront. You always know that in the midst of children singing, there is this threat looming until it finally arrives.
What do you enjoy most about this show?
One thing that I really enjoy is the different sets of kids that we have. Since the show’s opened, we’ve replaced the kids four times because they start growing so quickly. Each set of kids has their own personalities. It’s interesting to see how they cope with things in the way only kids can. Often in the business you don’t really get to work with children that much and I’ve really enjoyed working with these children.
How have audiences responded to the show in your experience?
I think they respond to the fact that it is not the film, and it is a happy surprise. Everyone feels like they are very, very familiar with it and instead, [the show] makes them sit up on the edge of the seat. They’re not settling into the LazyBoy and watching The Sound of Music that they think they know.
The Sound of Music feels extremely relevant in a time when we have such a divisive president and so much politically charged energy. Do you feel like the show reflects this?
You, know it’s funny you ask this because the night after Trump was elected I went onstage as the Captain. I literally teared up singing “Edelweiss” and seeing the Nazi flags. In that moment I was not the Captain; I was Christopher, fully myself reacting to what was happening in our country. It was so immediate what was happening to the country. It was so contemporary; the land that you love has literally been ripped out of your hands and heart. That moment became so real for me.
If there’s one thing Memphis audiences can take away from The Sound of Music stage production, what do you think that is?
If there’s something to walk away from, it is resistance. There is a silver lining because there are people who will help those who need help. Those of us who need to help and protect each other will climb this mountain and get over it. Sometimes when bad things happen, you just have to go along to get along. Whereas the Captain says you have to resist that instead of rolling over. Some of these songs put a lot of pressure on people because you have to determine, what kind of person am I?
The Sound of Music opens April 18 and tickets are on sale now. Show and box office information is below. Check back next week for my review. I can promise, it will be a good one.
DATES: April 18 – 23, 2017
• Tuesday, April 18, 2017 7:30 PM
• Wednesday, April 19, 2017 7:30 PM
• Thursday, April 20, 2017 7:30 PM
• Friday, April 21, 2017 8:00 PM
• Saturday, April 22, 2017 2:00 PM
• Saturday, April 22, 2017 8:00 PM
• Sunday, April 23, 2017 1:00 PM
• Sunday, April 23, 2017 6:30 PM
TICKETS: $25 – $125
BOX OFFICE: 901.525.3000
GROUP SALES: 901.529.4226