Look, I know that Bruce Springsteen has just left town, but I challenge any audience at the Allphones Arena to be as deafening in their adulation as myself and the other aficionados at Sing-A-Long-A Sound of Music at the State Theatre in Sydney recently. Truly.
We’d been eagerly primed by host Marika Aubrey, and witnessed some totally astounding costumes. There were girls in blue satin sashes, sunshiny peeps putting the rays in Do Re Mi, and more nuns than you could poke a wimple at. Then, finally, it was time. That Austrian scenery loomed large on the screen, the overture began and suddenly a tiny speck was twirling before us, and there you were. “She’s coming,” we cried.
Oh Julie, you simply must know that this film is taken to a whole new level through audience participation. Words cannot describe the satisfaction of hissing the demon-in-soft-focus Baroness (RIP Eleanor Parker); the warm-and-fuzzy feeling of going “awww” whenever little tomato-dropping Gretel appears in shot; wolf-whistling the dashing Georg Von Trapp; and yapping like a dog whenever Rolf came on camera to deliver a telegram (try barking his name, it’s very satisfying). We of course saved our biggest boos for the Nazis and our biggest cheers for our heroine.
We were right with you as you found your confidence on the way from the abbey to the Von Trapp residence. “All those children, heaven bless them, they will look up to me, and mind me,” we all sang. Well, you got them to roam about Salzburg in outfits made from curtains. So, box ticked, right there.
When Leisl was out dancing up a storm with Woof-Woof-Woof in the gazebo, you provided an understanding shoulder, and a laundry service. When the Von Trapplings were scared by a thunder, you helped them displace such fears by thinking of kettles, snowflakes and schnitzel. It wasn’t just these poor music-deprived Austrian kidlets you taught to sing Do Re Mi. It was all of us. Actions included.
We loudly cursed when Baroness Bitchy took you aside during the ball to let you know that she was boss, and that you and your Landler-dancing ways had to vamoose. But we applauded at the interval mark, because we knew what was to come. Fraulein Maria: The Return.
It’s no surprise, then, that we practically brought the house down when the Mother Superior commanded you to go back. (And, yes, I am ashamed to say, we hooted when she said that line.) And you couldn’t hold us back when you waltzed back into the lives of the Von Trapp kids as they moped about. Well, the Baroness was making them play the world’s most boring ball game, after all.
Oh, how we cheered when their stepmother-to-be was sent back to her gay parties and glittering circle of friends in Vienna, and then the Captain was making out with you near that cathedral of lurve, the gazebo. Oh, Georg.
Julie, have you ever heard the crowd at an AFL grand final cheer when their team wins the match? That was the soundtrack to the wedding scene. We whooped like nothing else. The adoring nuns looking on? Your dress? The Captain in all his regalia? We were more excited than Max and his third piece of strudel.
But alas, as Leisl learnt, one day you’re going “wheeee” in a glass outhouse, and the next you find you’re in love with a Nazi. That’s to say – shit gets real. And for the Von Trapps this means fleeing the Third Reich, but not before performing at Salzburg Idol, which provides the reprise for a few great numbers, including my own personal favourite, the Tea and Jam Remix of Do Re Mi.
And then we watched the lot of you clamber over the mountains on their way into Switzerland, belting out Climb Ev’ry Mountain at the top of our lungs in support.
So Julie, I feel that perhaps when you were filming this you didn’t expect that almost five decades down the track audiences would be guzzling wine and screaming for you and Christopher Plummer to get it on. However, trust me, we laughed like brooks, we sang like larks, we heard what we’d heard before, we went to the hills and we sang once more. And then some.