“The Sound of Music” – ASU Gammage

This review aired on KBAQ October 20, 2016


Broadway Across America – Arizona, ASU Gammage
Tempe, AZ

In 1959 when “The Sound of Music’s” stage version premiered on Broadway, critics slammed the sentimental show that starred a too-old Mary Martin as Maria, the young postulant turned governess to Captain Von Trapp’s motherless brood of seven children.  Family audiences loved the cloying story and, as younger replacement stars took over from Martin, the show accumulated a respectable 1,443 performance run.

When the show’s lyricist, Oscar Hammerstein II, died in 1960, commentators bemoaned the fact that such a creative author who had crafted several American musical theater classics ended his illustrious career with a hackneyed piece like “The Sound of Music.”  Composer Richard Rodgers continued his career after “The Sound of Music” with such innovative shows as “No Strings” which introduced biracial romance into the American musical theater but he failed to again achieve any major successes.  In 1965, “The Sound of Music” was crafted with numerous small but helpful plot changes and several subtracted original songs and supplemented new tunes into a definitive movie musical.  The film captured the show’s Salzburg, Austria setting with travelogue beauty and starred age-appropriate Julie Andrews as Maria.

“The Sound of Music’s” stage versions dried up as people focused on the superior movie.  Stage revivals admitted the original’s multiple deficits by refreshing it with songs created for the movie and dropping several original songs.  The revised stage version remains popular because audiences expect the movie.

So why include a revival using the original stage version on this year’s ASU Gammage Broadway series?  That was the unanswered question at the show’s Tuesday debut.  It doesn’t have an especially good Maria in Kerstin Anderson who doesn’t deliver anything approaching Julie Andrews’ enchanting film performance.  It has an undistinguished and often disappointing supporting cast, and the awkwardly moving physical production fails to capture Salzburg’s beauty.  Even award-winning Broadway director Jack O’Brien struggles with the nearly three hour show producing a plodding tale loaded with mediocrity and with no new zest or surprises.

So even if you want to see a “Sound of Music” why pay inflated ticket prices for a draggy stage version when your fix can be better satisfied by watching the movie?  The latest stage revival of “The Sound of Music” plays through Sunday, October 23.  To order tickets, call the Ticketmaster box office at 800-982-2787 or order tickets online at www.asugammage.com.

Grade: D

2 Responses to ““The Sound of Music” – ASU Gammage”

  1. Anne Till said:

    Oct 21, 16 at 01:24

    Agree with your review. Movie is so much better, and I have seen a few local productions that were better than this one.

    What did Gammage do to parking this year? It took us an hour to park. The traffic around campus was terrible. I thought that the parking issue might be due to homecoming, but I talked with others who experienced the same situation for the previous show. If the parking continues to be difficult, then I suspect that many season ticket holders will not renew their seats next year.

  2. Jim said:

    Oct 21, 16 at 22:48

    I am wondering if Chris Curcio was watching the same production I watched? This is a glorious show. I am really disappointed to read such a critical review.