By Taylor Roberts
A fresh new production of the beloved story of Maria von Trapp and her musical family is sure to become one of your favorite things when the National Tour of The Sound of Music plays The Lincoln Center, January 10–12.
“It’s a timeless story about love, family, music and faith,” says Lauren Kidwell, The Mother Abbess in the current touring production of The Sound of Music. “Those are things that human beings have faced since the beginning of time and the story continues to bring people back in because it’s a story that never gets old.”
Popularized by the 1965 Academy Award-winning film of the same name, the story was derived from a true story told by Maria von Trapp in her 1949 book The Story of the Trapp Family Singers. Although the musical alters some of the actual events, the tale still closely follows von Trapp’s account. Set in 1938 Austria, a young woman (Maria) who is studying to become a nun is sent to work as a governess for a retired widowed naval officer. She nurtures the seven children and love abounds but the world begins to change at the start of World War II and the family finds itself in very real danger from the Nazis.
Although the musical is set in Europe nearly a century ago, the underlying theme of the story remains relevant today. “I think people are becoming more aware of issues all around the world and in our country, and it resonates because the story is about how you stand up for what’s right. How do you stand for what you believe in when no one else around you will?”
“The director really wanted to infuse a sense of urgency and historical accuracy in the story because the movie, I think, focuses more on the family and about music. But this is 1938 in Austria and this production really wanted to make sure that was prominent,” says Kidwell. “The von Trapps were real people and that’s something this production wanted to illustrate. It’s not just about learning how to sing and learning to have music in your life but really how these people faced these issues in real life.”
“Our set is incredible, it’s a Broadway-caliber production with design by Tony award-winning designers. Every day right before I go on, I look around and am dumbfounded by how beautiful the backdrops, costumes, lighting and everything is together,” says Kidwell. “While the show is based on the Broadway production, the way it is directed feels very cinematic and, in that sense, we’re paying homage to the movie as well with how scenes transition from one to the other is very fluid.”
Thrilling audiences with its Tony, Grammy and Academy Award-winning Best Score, audiences will be amazed to hear the songs they know so well from the movie in a different light. “People are surprised by the choices of the production because they know the movie so well, but audiences end up being on the edge of their seat, hearing these lyrics for the first time and seeing this production. It feels to them like it’s the first time they’ve seen The Sound of Music,” says Kidwell. “Like with my character specifically, the Mother Abbess is the one that sings ‘Favorite Things’ with Maria and not the children, so you see my character in a completely different way. She’s able to open up and have fun with Maria in a way that I think people are unexpectedly surprised when they see this production.”
Kidwell is especially excited for the ‘Climb Ev’ry Mountain’ scene and how audiences will relate to it being from an area with mountains, and what the song can mean for people as everyone faces their own challenges in life. “I live in Southern California near the Sierra Nevada Mountains so that’s something that I see in my mind’s eye when I’m singing that song and I can only imagine how audiences that get to see Colorado’s beautiful mountain ranges every day will relate,” says Kidwell. “It becomes a metaphor that you’re able to see so clearly with the show which is about facing your trials and troubles and being able to climb mountains in your life.”
The Fort Collins foothills will come alive with the sound of music at the Lincoln Center January 10–12. Seats start at $20 and are available at LCtix.com.