The question is, how long can it last? I was talking about this recently with my boyfriend, Holger, who is German and lives just outside Munich, Germany. It was shortly after Christmas, and the movie had been recently aired. He expressed his amazement at the ongoing popularity and hype it still gets, particularly because many people nowadays – especially the younger generations – don’t even know of the Trapp Family Singers, or their music. Why does it continue to grow in popularity rather than fade into its place in movie history with the rest of the popular musicals?
Now understand, when we first met, he had heard of the Sound of Music, but had never seen it. He was more familiar with the original German film, Die Trapp-Familie. Of course, my daughters and I fixed that on his first visit – treating him to a private screening at our house, complete with sing-a-along and running commentary. I haven’t often had the opportunity to witness a virgin viewing – most people I know have seen it at least once. As a guy who’s more into Quentin Tarantino films than Rogers and Hammerstein musicals; he was a good sport to watch it with us. And while we didn’t succeed in creating a new groupie, he did appreciate it, especially since it was about our family.
Our conversation got me to thinking however, he did have a point. How often does a movie or theater production sustain the level of popularity that the Sound of Music has achieved – movies like Wizard of Oz, Mary Poppins, Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter; and musicals like Phantom of the Opera, Les Misèrables, The Lion King, and Annie come to mind. But certainly there are even fewer whose fans span generations, and have experienced multiple revivals.
Take, for example, the aforementioned Sing-Along Sound of Music craze, which I just discovered is alive and well at the 5th Avenue Theater in Seattle, WA (gotta love Google). Or how about the BBC reality show, How Do You Solve a Problem like Maria? that Andrew Lloyd Webber created to fill the role of Maria in his West End London revival in 2006. That inspired a version that was aired in Belgium, Op zoek naar Maria, for which the now-famous viral video of 200 dancers performing Do Re Mi in the Antwerp train station was created to promote.
Even on a small scale, the infatuation continues. Just a few weeks ago, I attended a local performance of The Sizzling Strings – a one-family musical group from Utah – who opened their show with, you guessed it, a Sound of Music medley.
But these examples only illustrate the momentum that continues to propel SOM forward in popularity, rather than settling into a quiet, nostalgic type of fame like, for instance, My Fair Lady or Mary Poppins. They don’t, however, answer our original question of how long will it last? Readers, what do you think? I’d love to hear your thoughts on this.
(Talk about coincidence – as I write this, I’m hearing a commercial on TV for Dove, Damaged Therapy, set to the tune of My Favorite Things, which reminded me about last night’s episode of Gossip Girl referenced the Sound of Music. See what I mean? It baffles the mind.) -- F.v.T.