From Salzburg to Singapore, the hills will come alive with The Sound Of Music from 22 Nov to 18 Dec.
The musical, based on the 1949 memoir The Story of the Trapp Family, tells the story of Maria von Trapp, the lively governess who changes the lives of the widowed Captain von Trapp and his seven children by reintroducing them to music as tensions rise before the outbreak of World War II.
Considered one of the most successful Broadway musicals of all time, The Sound of Music features iconic songs, including My Favourite Things, Edelweiss, Do-Re-Mi, Sixteen Going on Seventeen, and the title song The Sound of Music. Entertaining generations of audiences, the numbers and scenes from the musical have gone on to become musical standards and inspired the 1965 film adaptation of the same name starring Julie Andrews.
This is the third time the production has played in Singapore and the first significant international musical set to take the stage since the pandemic, kickstarting a global tour where it will travel to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, in December. It first landed on Singaporean shores in 2014 and subsequently in 2017.
“It has been a long wait during this pandemic, and we are more than excited to be able to finally bring musicals back to our shores. This will be the third time we are presenting The Sound Of Music in Singapore, and it has received so much love each time. The auditions have become a tradition where we can give our local talent a chance to star in an international production from Broadway with professional actors. This is not only a dream come true and the chance of a lifetime, but the possibilities of where this opportunity will take them are also endless,” says CEO of Base Entertainment Asia Chantal Prudhomme.
Of the almost 400 hopeful applicants who auditioned in June for the coveted roles of the six von Trapp children – Friedrich, Louisa, Kurt, Brigitta, Marta and Gretl von Trapp, eighteen were finally selected, where they will have the “chance of a lifetime” taking turns to play their assigned roles.
A magical stage
Performing as Louisa von Trapp is Gabby Tay, who turns 15 this month, was bitten by the theatre bug early on and started auditioning for films and musicals in 2016.
She auditioned for the 2018 production of Evita at the Sands Theatre but was rejected. It was experiences such as these that helped her realise the ‘magic’ of the process.
“Back then, whenever I got rejected, I would begin to doubt my abilities. Through the years, though, I’ve accepted that actors tend to get rejected most of the time. Most people don’t know that I’ve gone through many many many rejections before getting into The Sound Of Music. So I’ve learnt that sometimes, a role isn’t for you, but sometimes a miracle comes along, and it just falls perfectly into place,” Gabby says.
“It feels surreal to perform on such a huge, dreamy stage, and I think that getting rejected more often makes the successes even more magical,” she adds.
Despite being among the older bunch of the young cast, sharing the stage with her younger colleagues is another source of learning and joy.
“I have so much to learn from these kids and look up to them. As I get older and become a teenager, it’s easy to get caught up in stuff like “Does my hair look good?” and “Do I look okay from this angle?”. However, when I’m around these children in rehearsals, it somehow feels like I can let go of my teenage worries and be a kid again,” she says.
She adds, “Not only do I feel inspired by the talent and hard work of these kids but I also am reminded of how important it is to never lose that childhood spark.”
Apart from juggling her theatre work with school, the teenager still makes time to post covers of her favourite songs on her Instagram page.
Taylor Swift, whom she refers to as the “Queen”, is her favourite artist, with “Ours” as her favourite tune from the American pop-star royalty.
Transforming into the role
In the role of Friedrich, the second eldest of the von Trapp children is Stanley Yuen.
The 11-year-old, who sees the character of Friedrich similar to that of himself, is preparing eagerly for a literal “transformation” into the character.
“I have been preparing my lines, singing and acting at home to make sure that I will transform myself into Friedrich in the show,” says Stanley.
“My schedule has become busier since rehearsal started last week, but I am juggling them well. I have adjusted my schedule to focus on The Sound Of Music rehearsals,” he adds.
His favourite song from the musical is ‘So long, farewell!’.
For the 11-year-old Jessica Kitamura who will take the role of the second youngest von Trapp sibling – Marta, performing in hit musicals is slowly becoming something of a family tradition.
“When my sister (Emily) was part of the 2017 cast, we were all on the family journey. We all sang the songs from the musical and movie together. So I’m happy and excited to be able to go on this magical journey again with my family,” says Marta.
Jessica’s older sister Emily Kitamura played the role of the youngest von Trapp children – Gretl, in the 2017 production in Singapore. And while talent runs in the Kitamura family, having an older sister with experience in the same production one is preparing for is always helpful.
“I have certainly learnt a lot from my sister who has musical theatre experience. I learn something each time I watch her onstage or even when she’s practicing for her shows. I learnt important and useful tips from her on how to warm up my voice before auditions and look after myself to stay healthy during rehearsals and show time,” she adds.
Apart from the technical tips gleaned from her older sister, Emily also renders her support at home by helping Jessica with her school homework and availing herself as a singing partner whether at home or in the car.
“I feel extremely proud of my sister joining this year’s The Sound Of Music cast. It brings back countless memories from 2017 when I was rehearsing, and I share many fun experiences and stories from then,” says Emily Kitamura.
Having been involved in the 2017 production and witnessing sneak peeks of the forthcoming 2022 one at home, Emily drops some teasers for eager and returning fans.
“I am also able to see the differences between this year’s The Sound Of Music and 2017’s The Sound Of Music and I would say it is quite different. For instance, some of the actions and lines are not the same,” she adds.