CONCORD – The man has seen “The Sound of Music” numerous times and around the world. He will see it again May 5, staged by the Concord Players.
Why such an interest? “It’s our family story based on the most popular musical of all time,” said Sam von Trapp, grandson of Maria and Georg von Trapp, whose lives inspired “The Sound of Music.”
Sam Von Trapp, 40, has friends in Concord and considered attending the Middlesex School as a youth living in Stowe, Vt., home of the worldfamous Trapp Family Lodge. “It’s nice to be going to Concord” for the show, said von Trapp. “It’s always seemed like a beautiful place.”
At the May 5 matinee, von Trapp will do a talk-back with the audience and meet the cast.
He’s sure to be asked what Maria was like. “She was a very caring grandmother. When I was 7 I broke my femur horseback riding. She always came down to read to me.” But behind the wheel of a car, Maria was adventurous. “She liked to drive her blue convertible very fast. My parents wouldn’t let me drive with her.”
Mary Martin played Maria when the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical opened on Broadway in the 1950s.
Most people are more familiar with the 1965 movie starring Julie Andrews. “The Sound of Music” has time-tested songs like “Do-Re-Mi,” “Climb Every Mountain,” “My Favorite Things,” and the title song.
But there’s a more serious underlying theme that director Kirsten Gould is exploring with the Concord Players production that opens Friday night.
“The stage production is more true to the story,” she said. “I’ve seen productions of the show that didn’t pay enough attention to the dramatic part of the story.
“There’s an incredible story arc besides the songs,” regarding the von Trapps’ opposition to the Nazis,’ she said.
“There’s a pretty compelling story there. More and more you learn who your friends are, and who they aren’t. There’s betrayal and sorrow. The second act is quite dramatic.”
This will be one of the biggest and most expensive productions the Concord Players have staged. The set is elaborate, the costumes many. “We’ve got 15 people sewing costumes,” Gould said.
Arlington resident Tracy Wall , one of the costumers, said “The Sound of Music” has “something for everyone. There are bad guys and good guys. There’s romance. Kids.” Most of the children have multiple costume changes in the show.
Gould said 93 children and about 70 adults auditioned. The choreography includes a Viennese waltz, “which is very difficult to do,” said Gould, who has directed many of the ensemble’s most successful musicals over the years.
The role of Maria is played by Elaine Crane, a Boston Conservatory graduate and a member of the Concord New Life Fine Arts group. “This role has been on my bucket list,” she said. “The music and story resonates with me. The story is very timeless. We seem to deal with war all the time.”
Tom Frates of Lexington plays Captain von Trapp. “It’s a show that has to be handled carefully,” he said. “It’s not a sticky-sweet story. When done properly it’s about love of a family, and standing up against the force of evil.”
Wendy Parker of Concord plays Elsa. “I felt the part was right for me. I grew up on this wonderful music,” she said.
Craig Howard, a teacher in Pepperell and a veteran of the Concord Players troupe, plays Max. “It’s a wonderful theater piece because it gets children involved,” said Howard. In 1985 he visited the von Trapp lodge and got a glimpse of Maria. “I saw her on the balcony waving. She was a living legend.” Maria died in 1987.
Sam von Trapp is executive vice president of the lodge in Stowe, where he was born.
He skied at Dartmouth College and became an instructor all over the United States and Chile, where he lived for a while. He’s also resided in Aspen, Colo. He modeled ski outfits for Ralph Lauren.
Von Trapp is looking forward to May 5. “I feel honored to meet the cast,” he says. “I always appreciate what people do to learn their parts and the music.”
He frequently is asked what it’s like being a von Trapp. “I tell them ‘I don’t know anything else.’” This he does know. “It’s a gift.”