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The Sound of Music at 60: The Musical That's One of Our Favorite Things
Thursday, December 5, 2019 - 6:45 p.m.
Mary Martin during production of the Broadway musical The Sound of Music, 1959 (Toni Frissell/Library of Congress)
Let’s start at the very beginning: On November 16, 1959, the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre opened its doors for the opening night of The Sound of Music, the eleventh and final collaboration of the great songwriting team of Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein. The previous year, they had been approached by Mary Martin, their star of South Pacific, to transform the story of a singing Austrian family who escaped the Nazi regime on the eve of World War II into a musical play.
Starring Martin and actor and folk-singer Theodore Bikel, The Sound of Music was an immediate smash, winning five Tony Awards, including Best Musical, out of nine nominations. Six years later, 20th Century Fox adapted the property as a film for Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer. Directed and produced by Robert Wise, it won five Academy Awards, including Best Picture of 1966, and eventually became the most popular Hollywood musical of all time.
Pianist, raconteur, and American music specialist Robert Wyatt goes behind the scenes to showcase the making and production of the beloved and enduring show that captured a tale of hope amid the darkness of wartime Europe. Through film clips, original-cast and soundtrack recordings, interviews, correspondence, and more, he explores the history of the musical, how the real-life story of the Von Trapp Family Singers differs from the Broadway and film depictions, and the collaborative relationships and backstage drama among the musical’s producers, directors, and cast.
Enjoy hearing songs from Rodgers and Hammerstein’s final masterpiece, including evergreens like “My Favorite Things,” “Do-Re-Me,” “Climb Every Mountain,” and the haunting “Edelweiss”—the setting for Hammerstein’s final lyrics.
S. Dillon Ripley Center
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Metro: Smithsonian (Mall exit)