Capetonians are in for quite a treat as ‘The Sound of Music’, universally regarded as the world’s most loved musical, will be showing at the Artscape Opera House for the next month or so.
This lavish show – the highly acclaimed London Palladium production – is presented in South Africa by Pieter Toerien, David Ian and The Really Useful Group, and tells the story of the Von Trapp family’s flight across the mountains from Austria. The unforgettable score by the legendary Rogers and Hammerstein (‘Oklahoma!’, ‘Carousel’, ‘South Pacific’, ‘The King and I’) features some of the most memorable songs ever performed on the musical stage, including ‘My Favourite Things’, ‘Edelweiss’, ‘Do-Re-Mi’, ‘Climb Ev’ry Mountain’ and of course the title song, ‘The Sound of Music’.
Heading the South African cast is Bethany Dixon in the role of Maria and Andre Schwartz as Captain von Trapp, complimented by the likes of James Borthwick, Malcolm Terrey and Rika Sennett in the supporting roles.
‘The Sound of Music’ originally premiered on Broadway in 1959 to record-breaking advance ticket sales, where it won eight Tony Awards – including Best Musical. The 1965 Hollywood film, which starred Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer, won five Oscars, including Best Picture. Even today, ‘The Sound of Music’ remains the most successful movie musical in history.
PETER TROMP chatted to DIXON on the occasion of the biggest moment in her career.
Tell us a little about yourself. Where are you from, when did you first discover your love of performance, and how did you go about carving out a career in the entertainment industry?
I’m 26 years old and I live in Hout Bay. I grew up in Table View and went to Table View Primary School and Table View High School. Theatre and performing in general have always been a huge part of my life. The love for it practically runs in my blood. My mom and dad are incredibly musical. The love and passion for anything musical was passed down to me and my two brothers. My mom has done a lot of theatrical work, which inspired me as a child – those memories still inspire me to this day. So I’ve always had an attraction to the stage. My first professional production was ‘High School Musical’. I was in the ensemble and I understudied a lead. It wasn’t my first stage experience, but it definitely was a step in the right direction for me career wise. I always knew I loved theatre, but I didn’t realize I could actually make a career out of it.
What are some of your personal highlights so far?
‘Sunset Boulevard’, which we did in 2013, stands out for me as a highlight. We had such a fantastic cast and wonderful creative team. It was also a moment in which I realised I was where I was meant to be. I did a lot of questioning myself before. There were moments during ‘Sunset’ where I knew I was destined for this.
Where were you when you first heard you were cast as the lead in ‘The Sound Of Music’, and how did you react?
I was in a furniture store with my husband looking at a new table. I opened the email and then collapsed on the bed in the shop and burst into tears…so, not dramatic at all. I then called my mom and we both cried. I got off the phone and my husband presented me with the proof of payment for the table which he’d secretly bought me while I was on the phone to congratulate me. So we have a ‘Sound Of Music’ table in our house. It reminds me of a very special moment.
What can Capetonians look forward to with the production?
This isn’t the usual run of the mill production of ‘The Sound Of Music’. This is a new and improved, slick version with all the songs everyone loves and knows so well. Visually, it’s spectacular and it’s an all round euphoric experience, delivering to the audience exactly what they’ve come to watch, and more.
Tell us a about your character Maria and how you have gone about realising her.
It’s been a very natural process for me. I did quite a lot of research into the real Maria von Trapp before we started, which has helped me a lot. But I think my growth in my characterization has come from working with Frank Thompson, our sensational director and Johnny Bowles, our choreographer, as well as the musical director Louis Zurnamer and the rest of the fantastic creative team. The whole effort has helped me discover my very own Maria, and not just find in myself a little carbon copy of Julie Andrews.
For those more accustomed to the film version, how would you say the stage version differs to the beloved motion picture classic?
It differs visually in some ways, but I think what makes the stage version of this piece such a winner is that the audience feel as though they are in that living room when Maria meets the marching children; they can feel the intensity of those final scenes in the concert and the graveyard. On the other hand it maintains the sincerity and magic of the movie, while bringing that treasured and beloved film to life.
How familiar were you with ‘The Sound of Music’ before you were cast? Were you a fan at all?
I was such a fan and very familiar with it. I was in a production of ‘The Sound Of Music’ when I was 14. I played Louisa and my mom played Maria. So the piece is etched into my memory, pretty much.
* ‘The Sound Of Music’ will be showing at the Artscape Opera House until March 29.
Performances run Tuesdays to Fridays at 8pm, Saturdays at 3pm and 8pm and Sundays at 2pm and 6pm. Tickets cost from R125 to R425 via Computicket.