Thursday, September 23, 2010

The Sound of Music...It’s one of our Favorite Things!

So many of us grew up watching The Sound of Music year after year. From the delightful story of the von Trapp family, the gorgeous Salzburg scenery, to the wonderful songs written and composed by Rodgers and Hammerstein, this story has enchanted audiences for generations. What many may not know is that this story has been well acquainted with audiences long before the movie release in 1965.

So, “let’s start at the very beginning…” A long time ago, when the real-life Maria Kutschera ended her career as a nun, due to developing health concerns and took a job tutoring at the house of Georg von Trapp and his seven children. Unlike the movie, Maria was actually only hired to tutor one of Georg’s daughters who had rheumatic fever, but with her shared appreciation for music, and the children’s continued admiration, the relationship between Maria and Georg blossomed. In turn, Maria lost her aspirations to become a nun and took on the role as matriarch of the vo
n Trapp Family. Eventually, Maria and Georg had two more children of their own and together they formed a family singing group becoming the “toast of Austria.” That is, until Hitler’s annexation of Austria when Georg refused the offer of naval commander and the commission for his family to sing at Hitler’s birthday. It was then, Georg and Maria realized it was time to leave Austria, but not by hiking up over a mountain, instead by train to Italy (Georg was a citizen due to Italy’s acquisition of Croatia, Georg’s birthplace) and from there, the family traveled to America where they continued touring until Georg’s death in 1947. In 1949, Maria turned her memoirs into a book called The Story of the von Trapp Family Singers, launching a series of adaptations that have since become a worldwide phenomenon.

In 1956, director, Wolfgang Liebeneiner dramatized the memoir with a highly successful West German film called The Trapp Family, a dubbed version was even released in the U.S. by Twentieth Century Fox. Soon after, Liebeneiner filmed a sequel called The Trapp Family in America. With the tremendous success of these two films, it encouraged Broadway talent to create a musical loosely based on the story and commissioning the amazing duo of Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein to write and compose the music. At first, critics gave it lackluster reviews, but audiences loved it! So much so, that word of mouth spread making it one of the most popular musicals on Broadway. As a result, Twentieth Century Fox picked up the movie rights and the rest is history.

Since then, the hills of Salzburg, Austria have been alive with The Sound of Music. Fans from all over come to see the original sites from the movie. Panorama Tours, the company whose buses and limousines were used to transport the stars and crew during the filming, capitalized on this opportunity and began what is now the famous Sound of Music Tours. In addition, hotels began hosting a channel totally dedicated to airing the movie 24 hours a day and now have a local dinner show featuring the stage show. It is a definite must-see if ever in Austria.

As years pass, The Sound of Music continues to grow in popularity. In fact, the film even found itself subject to a series of parodies including Mad Magazine’s famous “Sing Along with Mad” in the 1960s, a collection of parody lyrics meant to be "sung to the tune of" popular songs, many of which were from The Sound of Music. In 2005, Mad TV created a parody featuring their interpretation of alternate endings and other “bonus material” they proposed should have been included in the 4oth Anniversary DVD release of the film.

In the UK, what began as an interactive group therapy session at a
convalescent home in Iverness, soon gave way to the birth of The Sound of Music Sing-Along Event. The idea of taking the lyrics from the songs and displaying them while the movie plays sparked interest among audiences and was further developed for the Gay and Lesbian Festival in London in 1999. It was soon apparent that the main audience for the show was young women, who found the event a fun and safe girls night out. Since then, the show has developed into a Rocky-Horror style sing-along event, where people dress up in costumes resembling their favorite Sound of Music characters and show off their looks for a pre-show parade finishing with a night of a complete sing-along experience. Some famous Sing-Alongers include Elton John, Dan Ackroyd and many more. You can experience the show for yourself this Saturday, September 25th at the Hollywood Bowl in Pasadena, CA hosted by Melissa Peterman. It is sure to be a magical evening!

In other media, advertisers are still featuring classic Rodgers and Hammerstein melodies to advertise their client’s products. Most recently, Dove aired a commercial featuring Lea Michele from the hit show Glee, singing “Favorite Things” as she dances her way through colorful sets promoting Dove hair care.

And now, The Sound of Music has even made its way into the social media scene. On Facebook alone, the film has over a half a million fans. So, in honor of this amazing response, The Rodgers and Hammerstein Organization are celebrating by hosting a contest. The winner will receive a Blu-ray player and The Sound of Music on Blu-ray when it arrives in stores this November.

Relive the magic of cinema’s greatest treasure once again in this stunning Blu-ray Collector’s Edition designed by Menagerie Creative. This fantastic gift set includes a 4-Disc Blu-ray collection featuring a digitally restored and re-mastered Blu-ray High Definition feature film and special features, a 45th Anniversary Soundtrack, a hand-painted music box, a 100-page scrapbook, and much more! This is the way The Sound of Music
was meant to be seen!


Brian Littler said...

Oh, nice post, and beautiful art