The Hills Are Alive in Philadelphia

cover photo by Matthew Murphy

You know…there’s a reason why The Sound of Music singalongs sell out across the US. People dress up as their favorite characters, come to a theatre for a screening of the 1965 film, and sing aloud to the classic songs we all know and love.

Classic is the perfect word for the real-life tale of the Von Trapp Family Singers. If you have yet to see the stage performance of this heartwarming, powerful story, you still have a few days to grab a ticket and head over to the Kimmel Center’s Merriam Theatre for the penultimate musical of their 2017-2018 Broadway season.

The musical takes place at a not so perfect time in history. Widowed patriarch Captain Von Trapp is ordered to work for the German navy, yet he opposes the Nazis and their ideas. He knows he must keep his children safe and ultimately flee their home in Austria. What is perfect, however, is aspiring nun Maria and how she comes into the lives of these children (and the Captain) at just the right time. She stands up to the Captain’s military style of parenting and really gives the whole family a breath of (musically) fresh air.

This cast in particular is nothing short of stellar. Every performance was flawless. Pennsylvania’s own Jill-Christine Wiley knocks it out of the park as Maria. Mike McLean is Captain Georg Von Trapp, playing the role with such ease. The children, the seven Von Trapp children, all sound so beautiful together. Seeing this show just to experience their voices and stage presence is well worth it.

The Sound of Music also has some area ties, as real-life Maria Von Trapp’s memoir The Story of the Trapp Family Singers was first published here in Philadelphia in 1949 by the J.B. Lippincott Company. After escaping from Nazi-invaded Germany, the family even lived nearby in Merion for a while. Youngest son, Johannes, was born in Philadelphia.

Roger and Hammerstein’s The Sound of Music should not be missed. The story may have taken place decades ago, but the themes are still relevant today. It’s going to be a beautiful weekend and perhaps the actual hills outside of Philadelphia are calling you. But instead, consider seeing this show and taking in these timeless performances. I bet you already know the words to every song.

For tickets and information, visit the Kimmel Center website.

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