Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Edelweiss (from The Sound Of Music)

I have sing along issues.

I love singing along to songs when I'm in the car or around the house and especially when I'm at dance parties. Oh, and singing along in Rock concerts. EPIC!! But I can't stand it when people sing along at Broadway shows. So when my brother asked me if I wanted to go to a "Sing Along Sound Of Music" event, I had my reservations.

Sound Of Music is without a doubt a great film musical. I take exception to the argument that it is the greatest musical of all time. There's pacing issues in the last third and there isn't much characterization for most of the children. Also there's something kind of creepy about "Sixteen Going On Seventeen."

Really? How is Rolf going to take care of Liesl? Take her to a concentration camp?

Then there's the fact that the last 1/3 of the film consists on no new songs only reprises. Also Sound Of Music features one of the most "mailed in" lyrics in Broadway history: "La, a note to follow so."

Despite these issues, the musical portrays a fantastic and inspiring true story and some of the songs are fantastic. For example "My Favorite Things," is harmonically and melodically adventurous which is why it remains a favorite in not only with musical fans but also with jazz musicians.

The "Sing Along Sound Of Music" is a touring event and I caught it at the 5th Avenue Theater, one of Seattle's historical Broadway theaters. The event featured a really mediocre print of Sound Of Music complete with subtitles for the songs so people could sing along.

However that wasn't it. People not only sang along but participated in the film ala Rocky Horror Picture Show. People booed at the Baroness, barked at Ralph and screamed "use the drapes" as Maria tried to figure out how to make the children play clothes. Oh yeah and people dressed up as nuns, Maria and the children.

I got to admit it was a lot of fun. Despite people singing a long and making jokes, I could enjoy simply watching the film. It wasn't all that different then watching it with a group of friends. I mean it's a three hour film. It's hard to sit through a film like this and not make a joke.

I didn't feel an urge to sing along until Captain Von Trapp picked up the guitar and sang "Edelweiss." There is a kind of musical cheese that surrounds most of the songs in Sound Of Music but there is something genuine and soulful about "Edelweiss."

My wife mentioned that when she watched Sound Of Music as a child she focused on the kids and Maria but as an adult it's the Captain and Austrian plot that really gets to her. I noticed this as well as the scenes about the children really define for the Captain what it means to be Nationalistic.

At the festival when the Captain stops in the middle of "Edelweiss." At this moment questions why he is taking a stand. Then Maria enters in to sing with him, she reminds him of everything worth escaping his homeland for.

It was amazing how the entire audience stoped singing when the Captain hesitated and felt the power of Maria's voice like she was singing with all of us as well. In some ways "Edelweiss" is the simplest song in the musical but its the most complex emotionally embodying the spirit and soul of a country in turmoil as well as the what it means to be a family.

If you ever get the opportunity to go to the "Sing Along Sound Of Music" I highly recommend you go even if you aren't a huge Sound Of Music fan. It's really a magical experience and a great way to experience the impact of the one of the most important pieces of art in our culture.

And seeing people dressed up like "packages wrapped up in string" is simply priceless.

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