I've been a huge Sound of Music fan since I was a kid. Sure, it's "just a musical" but It remains one of my favorite films of all time. It's pure escapism, but I love every piece of music and it just makes me smile. So I was thrilled that I had the chance to go see a professional stage production of it in Toronto this weekend.
My friend Eric and I hitched a ride with Junkii – who was off to Hamilton for school – and got dropped off in Toronto in time for the performance. It cost $100 ea for tickets, but it was worth every penny.
The production was incredible. The singing and acting were top-notch – especially Maria and the children – but even more impressive were the set designs and staging. The sets were on some sort of revolving stage, and set changes were seamlessly done. I knew from the start – from the first time we saw Maria – that we were in for a treat.
I was curious as to how they would show her coming down from the mountains, but it was brilliant. They had a large disc covering the stage, made to look like a grassy mountainside. With hydraulics, it was lifted in the air at a 45 degree angle, to make it seem as though you were looking down through the clouds on Maria laying on her back. As she started to sing, the disc slowly lowered to the stage as she twirled and danced about before running off to the abbey.
I could feel myself welling up during this number and – I won't deny it – it wasn't the only time. Tears were shed on several occasions. When Georg breaks down singing Edelweiss at the Salzburg festival….
Speaking of which, the festival scenes were brilliantly done, too. Basically they turned the whole Princess of Wales Theatre into the festival theatre, with Nazi flags flying from every balcony. This approach really encouraged audience participation, especially when they announced the festival runners-up.
Anyway, I won't recount the whole thing, but it really was a spectacle. And it compares favourably to the film. It's not going to replace the film for me, but I will hold this production dear.
In fact, I'd love to treat myself to musicals more often. I do enjoy them. I see Topol will be doing his farewell tour as Tevye in Fiddler On the Roof next winter. That would be a performance worth splurging for. And I see that they're mounting a musical production of Priscilla Queen of the Desert next Spring. I might be heading to Toronto a little more frequently than planned if I can expect the same calibre of production as I got this weekend.