Von Trapp relative cast in Marian’s ‘The Sound of Music’

Anna Kenney

The halls of Marian are alive with “The Sound Music.” The Fine Arts department is thrilled to be performing “The Sound of Music” as its fall musical this October. “The Sound of Music” production has been done twice before at Marian, once in 1983 and once in 1966. The movie version starring Julie Andrews has become a family classic since its premiere in 1965 and this year Marian is taking the story to the stage. Many know the movie and songs, but few are familiar with the true story of Maria von Trapp and eighth grader Eddie Smith from St. Margaret Mary’s, an actual relative of the von Trapp family the musical is based on, is sure to change that. Smith will be playing an aide to a general this October in the production.

The musical is based off the first section of the book The Story of the Trapp Family Singers by Maria von Trapp, published in 1949. Maria Kutschera came to the von Trapp family in 1926 to tutor one of the children (not to be their governess contrary to the movie). The real family had 10 children, not seven, and all of the names, ages and genders were changed for the production. The family was actually musically-inclined before Maria came to them. She did teach them to sing madrigals, English or Italian songs of the late 16th and early 17th centuries.

Maria married Captain von Trapp because of her love for the children and not out of love for him, although she did grow to love him later on. They were married in 1927, 11 years before they fled Austria, not right before the Nazi takeover as portrayed in the film. When they left Austria, they went to Italy (not Switzerland), and later, went to America to sing. Their singing group became fairly well known for singing classical music like Bach and Austrian folk songs.

eddie smith

Eddie Smith The real life relative of the Von Trapp family was cast in Marian’s production of “The Sound of Music ” as an aide to a general.

Broadway producers Leland Hayward and Richard Halliday joined with composers Rodgers and Hammerstein to bring the von Trapp family story onto the stage with original music. The show opened in 1959 and ran for 1,500 performances.

Fox bought the movie rights, cast Julie Andrews as Maria (who had recently won an oscar for her role as Mary Poppins) and premiered it in 1965. The film surpassed “Gone with the Wind” at the box office and is still the No. 3 highest grossing film ever. It won five Oscars including Best Picture and Best Actress for Julie Andrews.

This beloved story based on history has become a worldwide classic that will forever live on. The Performing Arts department is excited to produce this show and to have the opportunity to tell this story. The cast, crew and directors have eagerly started practicing in anticipation for the shows coming to the PAC in mid-October.

Something unique about this production right now is that Eddie Smith has been cast as an aide to a general, and he is related to the real von Trapp family. Eddie has been musical for most of his life, playing piano and guitar and singing, but this, however, is his first time doing theater. He said, “My parents told me it would be a lot of work, but it would also be fun, and I remember my cousins really enjoyed being part of the Marian musicals when they were in high school.” He said he was a little nervous during auditions but felt better after he saw that everyone else was just as nervous. More than 110 children auditioned for the show and Eddie was luckily chosen to play the role of an aide to a general. There were also 6 other children who were cast as the younger von Trapp children. Eddie said, “There were a lot of kids that turned out for the audition, so I was very happy and excited to get a part in the show.”

Eddie’s mother Margaret Klosner’s first cousin, Annie Everitt, married Stefan von Trapp, the grandson of Captain and Maria von Trapp. That makes Annie and Stefan’s children, the great-grandchildren of the Captain and Maria and Eddie’s second cousins. Annie Everitt (now von Trapp) actually graduated from Marian in 1979.  Eddie’s cousins are named Sofia, Amanda, Melanie and August von Trapp. “Like their ancestors, they are also professional musicians with amazing voices, and they travel around the world performing,” Eddie said.

Eddie has grown up enjoying family Thanksgiving sing-a-longs. Eddie said, “It is pretty cool when the von Trapp cousins make it into town for the holidays as, not only are they really funny and fun to be around, they are especially gifted musically. To hear them sing together in 4-part harmony is pretty amazing.” Their grandfather and Stefan’s father was Werner von Trapp who would be known as ‘Kurt’ in the movie version of “The Sound of Music.”

Eddie also explained that it is interesting to hear about the real history of “The Sound of Music.” “It is cool to have the opportunity to actually be in ‘The Sound of Music’ knowing their history.” said Eddie. He also appreciates learning about the details of his relatives’ history that were changed for the movie and its “Hollywood ending”.

Eddie’s being in the cast makes it even more exciting for others involved in the production. Come out to see the musical where history becomes reality at Marian High School. Eddie and the entire cast cannot wait for the audience to experience the beloved classic story with them. By the time the curtain rises everyone will be filled with the joys of  their “favorite things” and “The Sound of Music.”  Eddie said he can’t wait for this, “opportunity to meet new friends and to see how a musical comes together – it will be fun!”

 

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