Style that still lets the bride shine...
‘When I first heard I was going to play Maria in The Sound of Music, my heart went wild,” says Bethany Dickson, whose mother, Julie, starred in the same role at Artscape many years ago.
“I am in my mid-twenties and she was in her forties, when she played Maria,” says Dickson, but during auditions she could hear herself channelling her mother.
All the excitement is about next year’s R35 million staging of one of the world’s most-loved musicals, The Sound of Music, at Cape Town’s Artscape and Joburg’s Teatro at Montecasino.
Pieter Toerien, David Ian and The Really Useful Group will be presenting Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber’s production staged at the Wales Millennium Centre in July 2009, following a record-breaking 954 performances at the London Palladium where it was seen by more than 2 million people.
The role of Maria was cast after a hugely popular 2006 BBC reality television show called How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria?
Locally they followed a more traditional casting route, with Andre Schwartz cast as Captain Von Trapp and Dickson as Maria.
“It’s a challenge for me,” says Schwartz, who previously starred in Toerien’s Phantom and assures fans the voice problem that hampered him in Phantom’s last Cape Town run is something of the past.
“I did a few Joburg performances because it healed so quickly.”
What he likes about playing Captain Von Trapp is that it draws on his acting skills: “I am not an actor, I am a singer. That’s going to be a stretch for me.”
It’s why he wanted to play the part, which he hopes to conquer.
It’s second time around for Dickson in the musical, but in a different role. The first time, she was one of the children.
“Louisa, the naughty one,” she says. “It feels like I have come full circle.”
It’s a dream to play Maria, but she didn’t know it would happen so soon.
“Maria has been played by young and older performers,” she says. “In fact she was 19 at the start of the story, so I’m about right.”
Coming from a musical family, music has dominated her life. Her parents met in a show and she and her husband also fell in love during a production, although that’s not his day job. Her two brothers sing beautifully as well.
“We were often jokingly called the Von Trapp family,” she says, smiling about the irony. “It was difficult to escape the singing.”
But she didn’t want to. She shared a special bond with her mom because of their careers and when she shared the news (by phone because she’s currently starring in Sunset Boulevard ), “we tjanked!”
It’s the familiarity of the musical that tickles Schwartz.
“I think many people have listened to the music over and over.”
He certainly did as a youngster. It’s early days, but he is already obsessing with the captain’s persona.
“The images of the movie… Christopher Plummer is etched in so many minds,” he believes.
But it is the balance of his humanity and sometimes harsh treatment of his family that he needs to get a grip on.
“There is a charm there,” he says.
His colleagues at his marketing company have already warned him not to bring a whistle to work.
And in his performance life, he launched an Afrikaans album, Ek Wil Weer (I Want to Again), for the first time in 12 years.
“I wanted to have new music to bring to the fans,” he says.
With this Sound of Music he’s thrilled about the weight behind the production.
“It’s a fine group of people who know what they’re doing,” he says.
For those who need reminding, The Sound of Music boasts music by Richard Rodgers and lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II.
“These are probably the best-loved songs of all time,” says Lloyd Webber.
What promises to be a lavish production tells the story of the Von Trapp family’s flight across the mountains from Austria, with its unforgettable score that includes My Favourite Things, Edelweiss, Do-Re-Mi, Sixteen Going on Seventeen, The Lonely Goatherd, Climb Ev’ry Mountain and… The Sound of Music.
While it will closely follow the London production, this local staging will feature an all-South African cast.
“The hills will be alive with the sound of music,” predicts Toerien, with the Cape Town production on from February 19 to March 29 at Artscape, moving to the Teatro at Montecasino from April 5 to June 8.
• Book now at Computicket.