THE TOWN Hall Theatre will come alive with The Sound Of Music when Sean and Brian Powers’ Twin Productions bring the much-loved musical to the venue for a five night run from August 14 to 18.
Audiences can revel once again in the glorious sounds of timeless and iconic melodies like ‘My Favourite Things’, ‘Edelweiss’, ‘Climb Every Mountain’, ‘Doe-Re-Mi’, ‘The Lonely Goatherd’, and many more.
Seán and Brian Power have been producing quality productions at the Town Hall for the past 22 years with groups such as Renmore Pantomime, Galway Musical Society, and Power Performance Academy. Their credits including hit shows like Peter Pan, Seussical, and Oliver, among others. Now they are donning their liederhosen and alpenstocks to essay the enduring Rodgers and Hammerstein classic in what will be a fully staged production with professional sets, orchestra, sound and lights.
First performed on Broadway in November, 1959, The Sound Of Music was Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein’s final musical together, Hammerstein dying of cancer nine months after its premiere.
The initial idea for the show came about when director Vincent Donehue saw a German film about the von Trapp family and felt their story would provide a perfect vehicle for a stage play starring his good friend Mary Martin. As plans advanced for this production it was decided to turn it into a musical and instead of using songs from the Trapp Family Singers’ repertoire it would feature all new material by Rodgers and Hammerstein.
The musical premiered on November 16 with Mary Martin taking the role of Maria and Theodor Bikel - whose own family had to flee Nazi-occupied Austria - as Captain von Trapp. It was an immediate success, running for more than 1,400 performances and tieing for the Tony Award for Best Musical with Fiorello!
It also won four other Tony Awards, including one for Mary Martin as Best Actress in a Musical. The original Broadway cast album went on to sell three million copies.
In 1961 The Sound Of Music opened on the West End where it ran for 2,385 performances. In 1965, the show reached a whole new level of fame and success with the film version starring Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer. The film won five Academy Awards, including Best Picture, and in its day displaced Gone With The Wind as highest-grossing film of all time.
In the almost 50 years since, The Sound Of Music as remained a firm favourite enjoying several high profile revivals. The most recent of these was Andrew Lloyd Weber’s 2006 West End staging in which the role of Maria was cast via the Channel 4 reality TV show, How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria?. The part went to show winner Connie Fisher while her fellow contestant, Galway’s own Aoife Mulholland, was chosen to play the role for two performances each week. The revival was enthusiastically received, running for more than two years at the Palladium and then embarking on a British tour
Taking on Maria...
And so to Twin Productions’ staging of The Sound Of Music.
“We did it first nine years ago at the Town Hall, it was one of our earliest shows as Twin Productions,” Sean Power tells me. “In the last few years it was taken off the market, the license wasn’t being given out because of the big Andrew Lloyd Weber TV show and staging in the Palladium,but now the rights have become available again and so we’re able to do it again. It’s one of those iconic musicals that everyone can relate to.”
Power continues, highlighting what a large-scale production this show will be.
“There’s a cast of about 55 in the show,” he says. “All the principal parts are played by performers from Galway city and county musical societies. They have won awards and nominations through the Association of Irish Musical Societies so there is a good quality of performers in the cast.”
In this staging, the role of Maria is played by Caoimhe Donnellan; Captain George Von Trapp is played by AIMS award nominee Sean Hosty; Elsa is AIMS awards nominee Katie Creaven; Mother Abbess is played by AIMS award nominee Jackie Kenny; Max Detweiler is played by Karl O’Doherty; Sr Margaretta is Kiera Sheeran; Franz is Declan Gardiner; and Rolf Gruber is played by Robert Browne.
“Caoimhe was involved with the Power Performance Academy as a young girl,” Power reveals. “She’s now doing nursing and has appeared with the Patrician Musical Society and the Renmore Pantomime. This is her first lead role.
“Sean Hosty has been involved with Knocknacarra Amateur Theatre Society and many musical societies around the city and county. The other part of putting the show together is we had a summer camp where kids came and we auditioned them for the parts of the von Trapp children, it was open to children from anywhere, not just the Power Performance Academy; so we have kids from Galway; Oranmore, Corofin, Athenry, Spiddal, Clarenbridge.”
...and the von Trapps
Twin Productions has assembled 11 children to play the parts of the seven von Trapp youngsters. Several of the roles are shared between two actors, which both lessens the demands on the individual child while also spreading out the opportunities widely among the company’s youthful talent pool.
The performer ages also closely correspond to the ages of the von Trapp children, with the young Twin actors being aged from six to 16. Among the performers playing the von Trapp children are Rachel Gilmore, Cian Forde, Michael Faherty, Juliette Macken, Katie Larkin, and Laura Ní Cheallaigh.
I ask if there were any particular challenges in putting the show together?
“We’ve created a new concept this year in that we have the von Trapp Choir, numbering 28 singers, as part of the show,” Power replies. “The choir will be providing backing for the Von Trapp songs throughout the performance so it will be challenging setting that up as they will be onstage for those parts of the show.
“We also have a big set coming in from London for the show and there are some big setpieces with scenes in the abbey, and the Kaltzberg festival and so on. It’s a wonderful stage show, all in all.”
The Sound Of Music runs at the Town Hall from Wednesday August 14 to Saturday 17 at 7pm nightly, with a 2.30pm performance on Saturday. On Sunday 18 there is a matinee at 2pm and the evening performance is at 6pm.
Tickets are €18/16 available
from the Town Hall on
091 - 569777 and www.tht.ie