R&H's own Ted Chapin, Bert Fink and Victoria Traube recently traveled to Los Angeles, Salzburg, and Rio De Janeiro, respectively, and had some tales to tell. Read on for their first-hand experiences.
This summer the wondrous Julie Andrews took to the concert stage for the first time since her throat surgery 12 years ago. Explaining the surgery to the audience, she told them she "couldn't sing as high as that woman in the movie clip [of THE SOUND OF MUSIC]" but that she can do "a mean 'Ol' Man River'." Having set the boundaries, when she began to sing, "It's a very ancient saying, but a true and honest thought" the audience was in her thrall. Assisted by five able-bodied singers, she took the audience through portions of the Rodgers & (mostly) Hammerstein songbook in the first act (including her singing some of the Fairy Godmother's material in CINDERELLA following a brief film clip from the original TV production, and doing a contemplative "My Funny Valentine") and used the second act to present the premiere of a musical version of SIMEON'S GIFT, a book she wrote with her daughter, Emma Walton. This photograph was taken at an ASCAP party following a performance at the Hollywood Bowl with Williamson Music's John Bucchino, author of the lyrics to SIMEON'S GIFT, Emma Walton, me, Julie Andrews, and Ian Fraser, composer of SIMEON'S GIFT. —Ted Chapin (See Photo 1)
The place: Nonnberg Abbey, a magnificent Benedictine Nunnery founded in 715AD in the hills of Salzburg, Austria. The real Maria von Trapp was a novice here at Nonnberg in the 1920s, and Twentieth Century Fox was allowed to film a few sequences in its outer courtyard for the movie of THE SOUND OF MUSIC in 1964. The time: late June of this year. That's me in the blue suit on the right; I had come to Salzburg with the 10 finalists in Canadas popular summertime TV reality series, HOW DO YOU SOLVE A PROBLEM LIKE MARIA? We had an amazing few days, filming in and around this magical, musical city, but the highlight for the girls (and for me, their not-so-drowsy chaperone), was when we had a visit from The Lord. Andrew Lloyd Webber flew in to Salzburg for one afternoon, and held one-on-one coaching sessions with the girls in the resplendent music room of the stunning Leopoldskron Palace. He also walked us around Salzburg, where the emotional high point for everyone was this visit. Our helpful host was Herr Heiner Kolbe of the Salzburgerland Board of Tourism (in that group, only my friend Heiner could wear lederhosen and get away with it!), and our most gracious hostess in the Abbey was the Mother Abbess herself, Frau Perpetua Hilgenberg OSB. Incidentally, with no divine intervention that I know of, it is worth looking at the photo now and noticing that the young woman standing directly to the left of Lord Andrew, in the white blouse and orange skirt, is 23-year-old Elicia MacKenzie from Vancouver, British Columbia. Less than two months after this photo was taken, Elicia would win the coveted role of Maria in THE SOUND OF MUSIC, opening at Torontos Princess of Wales Theatre this October. —Bert Fink (See Photo 2)
I had the chance to go backstage at the Oi Casa Grande Theatre in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil, and spend some time with the wonderful young performers who play the children in A NOVIÇA REBELDE, which is the title of THE SOUND OF MUSIC in Portuguese. The show opened in Rio in March 2008 and is a big hit. I've seen THE SOUND OF MUSIC in many different countries and languages, and it is always a thrill to see how the audience responds to this beloved musical. —Victoria Traube (See Photo 3)