IRVING More than any other stage musical, The Sound of Music exists in the shadow of an insanely well-known and beloved movie version. It’s why so many stage versions do their best to imitate the film, even using versions that include the songs written for the film — Something Good and I Have Confidence — as well as shifting scenes to reflect the movie changes.
And why wouldn’t they? The Sound of Music is one of those rare cases of a musical being rearranged for film in which the movie version works better, dramatically.
But it’s good to be reminded of the original. As Lyric Stage is in the business of reviving the original versions of classic musicals, complete with original orchestrations and 30-plus-member orchestras, its production of The Sound of Music is a must-see. But not if you’re only interested in seeing an attempt to carbon-copy the movie.
A major factor in this production, directed by Cheryl Denson with music direction by Jay Dias (who conducts and reconstructed the orchestrations), is with the casting of Maria, the trouble-making nun who finds a new life as a governess and wife with a powerful widower. Every actress follows the Julie Andrews mold of the sweet-voiced goody-goody. But on Broadway, the role was originated by Weatherford native Mary Martin, who had a little more grit.
At Lyric, a bold move will probably earn love-it-or-hate-it reactions. The haters will be turned off by Bri Sudia’s larger physical presence — she’s taller and sturdier, with an alto voice prone to belting. But lovers will appreciate that about her, as well as the fact that she approaches the role as a tomboy, a little clumsy and with a goofy streak, all of which makes Captain Georg von Trapp’s (handsome, solid-voiced Christopher Carl) attraction to her more appealing.
However, one of the things the movie did well was show von Trapp slowly falling for Maria; here, the first sparks of romance are missing, and it goes almost unbelievably right into the confession of being in love, for both characters. There is dialogue from the original, though, that makes the decision by Elsa Schraeder (Janelle Lutz) to leave von Trapp make more sense, and part of that has to do with Lutz’s portrayal, slightly warmer than in the movie.
Of course, you can’t have a memorable Sound of Music without a gaggle of delightful youth actors as the von Trapp children, and this crew — Emily McIntyre as Liesl, Colin G. Beaton as Friedrich, Emma Colwell as Louisa, Hunter Hall as Kurt, Hayley Lenamon as Brigitta, Sarah Youngblood as Marta and the adorable Miranda Burras as Gretl — hits all the right marks.
There’s also noteworthy work from Jodi C. Wright as Mother Abbess, who does justice to Climb Ev’ry Mountain, and Christopher Curtis as Max, playing the role with just the right touch of flamboyance.
This being the original version, you might be put off by the different placement of some of the best-known songs, including My Favorite Things and The Lonely Goatherd, and intrigued by the tunes you never hear, such as No Way to Stop It, sung by Elsa, Max and Georg.
Lyric Stage has a knack for rebuilding the original versions of these shows without turning them into museum pieces, and The Sound of Music is no different. Perhaps the biggest recommendation is to say that it’s unlike any other production of this show you’ll see, and in this case, that’s a positive.