‘The Sound of Music’ lead actors reveal secrets to keeping performances ‘fresh’

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Nicholas Maude and Carmen Pretorious. (Photo by Jill Tan Radovan/InterAksyon)

Easily the most talked about live show in the metropolis is the ongoing international tour of the West End production of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “The Sound of Music.”

The acclaimed production of the timeless musical is produced by Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Really Useful Group and David Ian Productions and is presented in Manila by Globe Live, Lunchbox Theatrical Productions, Concertus Manila and David Atkins Enterprises in association with Pieter Toerien Productions.

With so many companies involved, expectations naturally run high for the much-anticipated production and for the most part, this particular incarnation of “The Sound of Music” delivers. A big reason for its success is the performance of its two lead actors namely Carmen Pretorious who plays Maria Rainer (later Maria Von Trapp) and Nicholas Maude who portrays Captain Von Trapp.

Both Carmen and Nicholas are seasoned thespians on theater, film and television who each bring a fresh perspective on iconic roles largely identified with Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer in the well-loved film now considered a Hollywood classic.

In a recent interview with InterAksyon and other media, Carmen admitted that Julie Andrews was indeed an inspiration for her portrayal of Maria as she and her two younger sisters practically grew up watching “The Sound of Music” almost every week in their home.

“My earliest memory of ‘The Sound of Music’ was when my mom bought the movie for me and my sisters and told us the story of Julie Andrews and the Von Trapp family where it was based. Julie Andrews was very iconic as a singer and I always looked up to her,” she recalled.

Carmen added that when she turned 18 in 2006, “The Sound of Music” got her attention again when the BBC One network produced a talent search show called “How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria?” that was won by Welsh singer, Connie Fisher.

“That’s when it came up in my life again and a few years in 2013, later I auditioned in ‘The Sound of Music’ and was first cast as Liesl, Captain Von Trapp’s eldest daughter and understudied for Maria. It has been four years since then and that has been my journey and a very personal one at that,” she added.

Carmen Pretorious as Maria in a scene with the Von Trapp children in ‘The Sound of Music.’ (Photo by Jill Tan Radovan/InterAksyon)

Nicholas’ road to “The Sound of Music” had not been quite the same as Carmen’s.

“I didn’t grow up with musicals like ‘The Sound of Music’ and ‘Mary Poppins.’ I didn’t get caught up in that. My introduction to Christopher Plummer was through a 1991 movie called “Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country” and it wasn’t until 2006 when I finally got to see “The Sound of Music” when I had the opportunity to do the West End show with Connie Fisher,” he shared.

Nicholas thought “The Sound of Music” was a great film that he really enjoyed. So, when he was offered the role of Captain Von Trapp for its West End staging over three years ago, he thought he could bring a fresh interpretation to the character.

“I’m not Christopher Plummer. Christopher Plummer is Christopher Plummer. I’m just trying to be me,” he said.

As “The Sound of Music” is also known for the Von Trapp children, which is played in the Manila production by three groups of child performers including several Filipinos, Carmen and Nicholas were asked what’s it like to interact with the children in the musical.

“The kids are fearless,” quipped Nicholas. “They’re like sponges who take in and give information with ease and are not put off by anything. They’re wonderful, committed, full of energy and have this longing to do their jobs well.”

Carmen agreed. “They’re so talented, I can’t believe this is the first show most of them are doing. Just as they learn from us, we also learn a lot from them. They’re just happy to be here.”

As for doing the same role, saying the same lines and singing the same songs night in and night out, both actors said that doing what they are doing never really gets old, whether it’s “The Sound of Music” or any other production.

“I’ve always believed that if you do a job you love, you’ll never work a day in your life. We’re doing something we want, we love. Every night, I’m doing something I enjoy. Every night, I’m recreating something, I’m recreating that scene. I’m never just doing the same thing. In that sense, every night is different, every show is different. You never get bored,” Nicholas pointed out.

“It does become part of the job that we do is to manage that logistics. How do you keep it fresh? My trick is to remember that the audience is seeing the show for the first time. We have to tell the story like it’s for the first time because the audience has never seen it before,” Carmen chimed in.

“I’m kind of telling the story to myself every night as well from the beginning to end. Also, acting is reacting. When you’re onstage, you are in that moment and react to what your fellow actor is giving you.”

As for performing in the Philippines for the first time, Carmen and Nicholas are both happy to be in the same place where other talented stage actors like Lea Salonga and Rachelle Ann Go came from.

“It feels great to be in this place where a lot of great stars started. And I can totally see that because everywhere I go, like when I buy groceries, I can see and hear people sing and sing so well. Some would even harmonize with each other. This is a land of talent,” she enthused.

While no other performers can make audiences forget Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer, Carmen Pretorius and Nicholas Maude have done a very good job of making the roles of Maria and Captain Von Trapp their own, injecting their performances with just the right amount of humor, wide-eyed enthusiasm and first-rate singing that should make this definitive production of “The Sound of Music” a must-see for audiences of all ages.

“The Sound of Music” will run until October 22 at The Theatre at Solaire. For schedule of shows and ticket information, visit www.ticketworld.com.ph.