When Tisha Kelemen was four she met Maria Von Trapp on a family holiday in Vermont.
By the mid-1960s Maria was widowed, and some of her family had settled in the Trapp Family Lodge in Vermont.
Keleman remembers arriving at the lodge as a tourist with her family and meeting the matriarch.
“She came out and introduced herself as Baroness Von Trapp,” said Keleman, of Artarmon. “I was only young, but it’s gone down in family folklore.”
Kelemen, 37, is now playing the role of Mother Abbess in Chatswood Musical Society’s The Sound of Music.
Having always loved singing songs from the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical, Kelemen said she was thrilled to be in the show.
She said the ongoing appeal of The Sound of Music were the music and the children, as well as the uplifting subject matter.
“It’s a love story in troubled times and, at the end of the day, love conquers all,” Kelemen said.
Kelemen said she loved her character’s signature song, Climb Every Mountain.
“It’s a song you either love or hate. It means you have to find out for yourself what you want,” she said.
“It’s the old version of carpe diem - seize the day.”
For Kelemen hearing the sound of the female choruses in this production was inspiring.
“It’s difficult choral singing for women. The pieces sung in the abbey are moving and beautiful,” she said.
Despite being a stage production, this version of the musical, set in the Austrian Alps, has its own mountain, which the whole cast helped to build.
“It’s huge. The theatre is quite big, and it fills the background,” Kelemen said.