Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

'Sound of Music' Captures 1959 Vision

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

'Sound of Music' Captures 1959 Vision

Article excerpt

Byline: Charlie Patton

Matt Lenz, who directed the touring production of "The Sound of Music" that arrives Tuesday at the Moran Theater for the first of eight shows, is a great admirer of the 1959 musical, the last collaboration between composer Richard Rodgers and lyricist Oscar Hammerstein II, who died nine months after the Broadway premiere.

But Lenz knows the show, which tells the story of Maria Rainer, who takes a job as governess to a large family while she decides whether to become a nun, has its detractors. When the show (which won five Tony Awards, including best musical) opened on Broadway in 1959, New York Herald Tribune critic Walter Kerr wrote that the show "becomes not only too sweet for words but almost too sweet for music." Christopher Plummer, who played Capt. Georg von Trapp in the 1965 movie (which won five Oscars, including best picture) took to calling it "The Sound of Mucus."

Yes, Lenz agreed, the show "can be totally done on the surface," becoming rather saccharine in the process. "You can easily wallow in this sweet, fluffy kind of thing."

"My particular taste is not saccharine," Lenz said. "Whatever the project, if I feel it's overly sentimental, I work against that. With 'The Sound of Music,' if you take the time and give it its due, there is an extraordinarily sophisticated story."

In that story, Maria first falls in love with the seven von Trapp children, then with their stern father. While all this is happening, there is the looming threat of Anschluss, Nazi Germany's annexation of Austria, which could force Capt. von Trapp to serve in Germany's navy.

On his website, Lenz writes: "The stories we tell in the theater matter - they have the power to heal, to change hearts and minds - and at their best they reflect our humanity."

Asked how "The Sound of Music" reflects humanity, Lenz said: "It covers so much psychologically and spiritually. It's about religion, politics, romance, family, so much that is deeply, deeply important to us. It's really about our convictions, our principles and what we're willing to stand up for. It's about figuring out what you are meant to do and how to spend your love. …

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