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Life / Entertainment / Theatre / Sound of Music
Guide to the London stage musical "The Sound of Music"
  Main characters
  Background notes
  Rodgers and Hammerstein
  The film "The Sound of Music"
  Further information


This page is a brief guide to the latest revival of the stage musical The Sound of Music, which opened in London's West End in November 2006. It is being staged at the London Palladium.
The show closed on 21 February 2009.

The leading actress, playing the role of Maria, is Summer Strallen.
The actress who previously played Maria was Connie Fisher. She was selected by a public vote at the end of a TV talent competition in 2006 called "How do you solve a problem like Maria?"

The producer is Andrew Lloyd-Webber.

Summer Strallen as Maria


Captain von Trapp

Connie Fisher used to play Maria

The London Palladium

Former poster

To see a video clip about the musical: click here

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Performances start times are as follows (the theatre opens 45 minutes earlier):


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The story is set near Salzburg, in the Austrian Alps, in the late 1930's.

Maria sings about her favourite things

Captain Georg von Trapp: The father of the family of 7 children. He was a captain in the Austrian navy. His wife has died.
Maria Rainer: A playful nun. She loves singing and often gets into trouble. She is sent from the convent to help Captain von Trapp to look after the children.
Liesl: The eldest daughter (aged 16)
Friedrich: The eldest son (aged 14)
Louisa: Daughter (aged 13)
Kurt: Younger son (aged 10)
Brigitta: Daughter (aged 9) - she is very honest and perceptive
Marta: Daughter (aged 7)
Gretl: The youngest daughter (aged 5)
Frau Schmidt: The housekeeper

The children say goodnight to the guests at the ball

The Mother Abbess: The Mother of Nonnberg Abbey - she is firm but caring
Sister Berthe: The strict Mistress of the Novices (a novice is a nun who has recently taken her vows)
Sister Margaretta: The kind Mistress of Postulants (a postulant is someone who wants to become a nun but has not yet taken the vows)
Sister Sophia: Sweet and caring. Maria’s best friend
Max Detweiler: A friend of the Captain, and the organiser of a singing competition
Rolf Gruber: Liesl's boyfriend (aged 17), who works delivering telegrams before joining the Nazi army
Baroness Schraeder: The Captain's wealthy fiancée
Admiral von Shreiber: An admiral who is sent to force the Captain to accept a position in the German Navy
Herr Zeller: A bullying Nazi

Rolf and Liesl meet in the garden

Maria gets married

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If English is not your first language you may want to read the lyrics of the songs before you see the show. This can be found at this website address:

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The film and musical are based loosely on a real story. Maria was born in Vienna in 1905. Both of her parents died when she was a young child, and she was looked after by a relative. She attended the State Teachers' College of Progressive Education in Vienna, after which she spent two years as a novice nun in the Benedictine Abbey of Nonnberg in Salzburg. Georg von Trapp, born in 1880, was a submarine captain in the Austrian Navy during World War One. He married and the couple had 7 children, but in 1922 his wife died from scarlet fever. The family moved to an estate in Salzburg. One of his daughters had also caught scarlet fever but was recovering at home. Georg asked the Mother Abbess if she one of her nuns could teach his daughter. Georg was not as strict as shown in the film, and the family were already musical before Maria arrived. Maria was supposed to stay for 10 months, but Georg fell in love with her and they were married in 1927. Georg and Maria had 2 children together while they were in Austria, then another later in 1939 (the names and ages of the children were changed in the film). Georg lost much of his money during the economic depression of the late 1920's / early 1930's. The family decided to start singing on stage, and won the Salzburg Music Festival in 1936.

Following the takeover of Austria by the Nazis in early 1938, Georg refused to fly the Nazi flag or to sing for a celebration of Hitler's birthday. Georg and Maria were also concerned about the possible influence of Nazism on their children. They told people that they were going to America to sing, and left Austria by train to Italy. From there they went to London and took a ship to America: the fare was paid by the American agent with whom the family had a contract. They didn't return, and their house was taken over by the Nazis. The family toured as a musical group for a number of years, although over time most of them left to do other things. Georg died in 1947. Maria published a book about the family's story in 1949. This was turned into two German films before the musical play was written by Rodgers and Hammerstein and this was then made into a Hollywood film by Twentieth Century Fox. The family did not make much money from the success of the musical and film, because the rights had been sold to the German film company. Maria died in 1987.

The Story of the Trapp Family Singers
(book about the stage musical)
Author: Maria Augusta Trapp
Publisher: HarperCollins
Date: January 2002

Austrian history: the Anschluss
The Austro-Hungarian empire collapsed after the end of World War One. Many German-speaking people in Austria wanted to unite with Germany, but this was not allowed under the terms of the treaty which was signed at the end of the war (the Treaty of Versailles). After Adolf Hitler became Chancellor of Germany he plotted to overthrow the Austrian Government, together with his supporters in the Austrian Nazi Party. In March 1938 the German army was "invited" into Austria and the union ("Anschluss") of the two countries was announced. Neither France nor Britain took action. Soon afterwards Hitler also took over Czechoslavakia and then invaded Poland in 1939, causing Britain to declare war on Germany.

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The musical contains the following songs:
- The sound of music
- Maria
- My favourite things
- I have confidence
- Do-re-mi
- Sixteen going on seventeen
- How can love survive? (*)
- The lonely goatherd
- Ländler (*)
- So long, farewell
- Climb every mountain
- No way to stop it (*)
- Something good
- The wedding processional
(*) these songs do not appear in the film version

The children and Maria sing
"The lonely goatherd"

The Sound of Music [Soundtrack] (2 CDs)
Artists: London Palladium Cast
Label: Polydor
Date: December 2006

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The accents are clear, and most of the vocabulary is about ordinary situations. If you have seen the film you will already be familiar with the story (there are some small differences).
Age: Adults and children of all ages will enjoy this production.
Music: There is music throughout the performance, with only short sections of speech.

The family hides from the Nazis

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Richard Rodgers (the writer of the music) and Oscar Hammerstein II (author of most of the lyrics) were very successful American writers of musicals on Broadway. In 1943 they created Oklahoma!, followed by Carousel, South Pacific, The King and I and The Sound of Music. They also wrote for the film State Fair and for the TV production Cinderella. Many of their stage musicals were turned by Hollywood into successful films, of which The Sound of Music has been the most popular.

Rodgers And Hammerstein - A Musical Celebration (DVDs)
[includes Carousel, State Fair, Oklahoma, South Pacific, The King And I and The Sound Of Music]
Studio: 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment
Date: April 2006
The Rodgers and Hammerstein Encyclopedia
Author: Thomas Hischak
Publisher: Greenwood Press
Date: June 2007

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The film version of The Sound of Music was released in 1965 and starred Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer.
Most of the filming was done in the Salzburg area, near the real place where the von Trapp family had lived.

The Sound of Music [1965] (DVD special edition)
Starring: Julie Andrews & Christopher Plummer
Studio: 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment
Date: November 2006
Mary Poppins [1964] (DVD: 40th anniversary edition)
[another musical starring Julie Andrews]
Starring: Julie Andrews & Dick Van Dyke
Studio: Walt Disney Home Video
Date: March 2005

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Official website for the musical:
Palladium Theatre (a Really Useful Group theatre):

The Palladium Theatre is in Argyll Street, London W1A 3AB (nearest Tube: Oxford Circus; map)

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British theatre: Life/Entertainment/Theatre
West End Live: Ideas/Album/West-End-Live

If you like The Sound of Music you may also be interested in these musicals:
Carousel: Life/Entertainment/Theatre/Carousel
Les Miserables: Life/Entertainment/Theatre/Les-Miserables
Phantom of the Opera: Life/Entertainment/Theatre/Phantom-Of-The-Opera

British films: Britain/Films
Switzerland: Travel/Tours/Switzerland

Home page: Home

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