THE SOUND OF MUSIC
The Kauffman Center, Kansas City, MO
January 15, 2019
The Band’s Visit, Dear Evan Hansen, Hamilton, A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder, Kinky Boots, Once, The Book of Mormon, Memphis, Billy Elliot the Musical, In the Heights.
The above shows are the ten most recent winners of Broadway’s prestigious Tony Award for Best Musical. All well deserving of the accolade, but I ask you, how many of them will still be packing the theaters six decades from now? My guess is Two (Book of Mormon and Hamilton). I raise this question because there is a show running now that is as fresh and popular as it was when it debuted on Broadway in 1959. That show is The Sound of Music.
The show tells the story of nun-to-be Maria Rainer (Jill-Christine Wiley), a young woman who enjoys life and art too much to fully commit to taking her vows. Knowing her doubts, the Mother Abbess (Lauren Kidwell) sends her to the home of Captain Georg von Trapp (Mike McLean), where she will serve as the governess for the widower Captain’s seven children. Maria is stunned to see that the Captain runs his household like it was the military, with each child programmed to respond to whistle calls and where their only playtime consists of marching. Despite his protests she begins to introduce music and fun to their young lives. Yet this is not always a fun time to be in late 1930s Austria. A power is rising that deeply offends Captain von Trapp, one that threatens he and his family.
What can you say about a show that has received every possible honor – 5 Tony Awards, including Best Musical (where it tied with Fiorello!. Another nominated show that year – Gypsy. Curiously, both Gypsy and The Sound of Music have enjoyed several revivals. The 1962 revival of Fiorello! ran 16 shows and has not seen the lights of Broadway since.) It is truly one of the greatest musicals ever conceived.
The touring company is quite impressive. Ms. Wiley gives Maria a sweetness that does not belie the toughness she needs to deal with the Captain. Her voice is clear and she doesn’t miss a note. Mr. McLean is equally strong as a man whose grief has taken away his love of the music he once embraced. The cast of children making up the Family von Trapp are fun and not precocious. But the showstopper here is Ms. Kidwell, whose powerful rendition of “Climb Every Mountain” brought this critic to tears. The Sound of Music runs through Sunday, January 20th in Kansas City and continues through the US and Canada through May. For tickets and locations click HERE.