The Von Trapps are in town!
Young love, sweet love will reverberate as the internationally-celebrated stage play “The Sound of Music” begins its 19-day run in Manila.
The London West End Production of the beloved classic theater piece – set in Salzberg, Austria at the onset of World War II, about a governess who made a difference in the life of Captain Von Trapp’s family through music – will play from September 27 to October 15 at the Theater in Solaire, Parañaque City.
INQUIRER.net sits with performers, Zoe Beavon, who plays Liesl, the eldest of the Von Trapp children; and Michael McMeeking, who plays Rolf, her love interest who took on a treacherous role of turning against the Von Trapp family as a young Nazi soldier.
Beavon was delighted over portraying the role of a big sister, or Ate in local speak, to younger stage siblings – Von Trapp children, who will be played by an all-Filipino cast.
According to Beavon, she may be the Ate but she feels like a youngster as well in the company of the children.
“I just play around with them. We have a tag game one time. I’m kind of a big sister, and not just an adult. Instead of being an outsider, which is what adults are kind of like, I kind of have to be one of the kids. They make me feel young,” Beavon said.
McMeeking said playing Rolf allows him to remember his childhood days.
“I don’t think anyone in the world would not want to relive their childhood memories and fun moments. As we get older, we kind of get numb to those feelings,” he said.
“Every now and then, we feel that complete infatuation. There’s nothing like the first time,” he added.
Beavon and McMeeking shared a laugh as they expressed excitement in showing the famed gazebo scene, where the two would sneak off into the night to engage in a singing joust with the well-liked song “Sixteen Going On Seventeen.”
The song echoes the innocence of young love. The 17-year-old Rolf depicts the “older and wiser” man who will take care of 16-year-old Liesl, who illustrates a naïve girl who needs someone like Rolf to depend on – a scene that presents a male-centric perspective of a woman’s dependence to a man.
But as the story shows the developing relationship of the couple, Rolf would eventually betray Liesl, turning his back, albeit apprehensively, on her and the Von Trapp family to join the Nazis.
Other songs from the musical that the global audience has grown to love are: “Favorite Things,” “Do Re Mi,” and “The Hills Are Alive” – where the Von Trapp children, the Captain, and the governess sang together against the backdrop of Austria’s scenic rolling hills.
McMeeking finds his role truly challenging.
“My character is really meaty. There’s incredible character development. By the start of the show, you see Rolf and Liesl, you see young, bubbly love. It’s really relatable to the audience, it embraces everyone who experienced that before,” McMeeking said.
According to him, while the audience would hate Rolf for his act of betrayal, his character would also elicit a sense of sympathy since he was merely “forced” to make such a decision considering the Nazi propaganda at the time.
“But at the end of it, when Rolf was forced to make that decision, he ultimately makes the audience feel kind of betrayed, and also upset for Rolf, because he has had to make a tough decision, not of his own accord,” McMeeking said.
“It’s the propaganda of the time. It’s the situation that, a time that forces him to make that decision,” he added.
The young performers said the musical has kept its charm through the years with its established representation of universal themes such as young love, family, friendship, and loyalty.
“This musical, I think why it’s still going so strong, is because there’s so many what you could call themes and similarities in the world today,” McMeeking said.
“I think the real values of life, family, friendship, camaraderie; I think those are elements that stick out more than anyone else. There’s tragedy, the deep subject material in the show that would engage audiences in such a way that they feel upset,” Beavon also said.
Beavon described the musical’s ending, where the Von Trapp family escapes from the Nazis and crosses the mountainside while the song “Climb Every Mountain” plays on.
“As the curtain goes down, there’s a beautiful number with a prospect of freedom. And possibly, the audiences will go away with that in their heads,” Beacon noted.
The performers then gave INQUIRER.net a preview of their iconic song, which reflects the sentiments of youth amidst a world of conflict.
Liesl could not have said it any better: “I am sixteen going on seventeen, I know that I’m naive. Fellows I meet may tell me I’m sweet, and willingly I’ll believe. I am sixteen going on seventeen, innocent as a rose. Bachelor dandies, drinkers of brandies, what do I know of those?”
“Totally unprepared am I, to face a world of men. Timid and shy, and scared am I of things beyond my ken.”
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