Baroness: Why didn’t you tell me?
Max: Tell you what?
Baroness: To bring along my harmonica…
Last night I attended one of the nationwide performances of the Sing-A-Long Sound of Music, which is about as much fun as you can have with your clothes on (except, of course for carpet shopping in the Middle East which really is the most fun as you can have with your clothes on.) I love The Sound of Music and I am planning my day tomorrow around the Oprah reunion of Julie Andrews, Christopher Plummer and all 7 of the kids from the movie for the first time ever. My copy of the new blu-ray 45th anniversary DVD is already ordered with amazon.com, and I am looking forward to a three-generation orgy of watching it on the day after Thanksgiving with my three amazing aunts (who gave me their original Broadway Cast recording of the Mary Martin version), my sister, my two nieces and Velvet – all of us diehard fans.
My companions and I were the only ones in costume, and modest costumes at that: I dashed into my beloved STAPLES at the last moment and rooted around the nascent Christmas displays to find a strip of snowflake stickers. In the lobby of the theatre, I passed them out to the girls, instructing them to stick the snowflakes onto their nose and around their eye area, so we could be “Snow flakes that stay on my nose and eyelashes.”
The Sing-A-Long version of the Sound of Music is an opportunity to really let rip with your enthusiasm for the film. You can boo and hiss at Herr Zeller, Rolf, and Franz, the slimy butler, and yell things like “The curtains, Maria…use the curtains!” You can shout, “Better get in the gazebo, Lisel, it’s starting to rain,” and you can sigh audibly when Christopher Plummer finally gets his act together and goes to find Maria at the gazebo.
There were a lot of men in that theatre who, I think, had lost bets.
But what I wanted to mention was how much the Baroness has grown on me as I’ve got older. In my childhood, of course, she was right up there with Margaret Hamilton in the wicked witch category, but as I’ve got older, I find myself warming to Elsa. It is a great shame that “How Can Love Survive” was cut out of the movie, since it has some of the best lyrics in the whole score. Here are Marion Marlowe as Elsa, Kurt Kasznar as Uncle Max and Theodore Bikel as The Captain:
The Baroness, as I have come to appreciate, is a class act. She has some amazing outfits – the best in the entire film if you don’t count Maria’s wedding dress — including that red one with the polka-dot bow that I covet. She smokes rather elegantly, and the actress, Eleanor Parker, uses her eyes and mouth to show exactly what is going on, and what she thinks about it. Check it out next time you watch the film. Watch her shock that the dashing captain is really really unpleasant to his kids at the rowboat scene. Watch her exasperation at having to watch another goddamn puppet show, her very careful up and down of Herr Zeller at the party, and the verge of-tears-but-keeps-it-together (the new print has a real live glint in her eye) brave and gutsy final moments.
It can’t be easy, even when you have the finest couturier in Vienna, and the most glittering circle of friends, and even though you do give some gay parties, to be gracious enough to realize that, okay, the 22 year old Nanny has snagged the glamorous Naval Captain, and no, she is never going to be a nun. I like the way Elsa takes control of the conversation that the Captain tries so pathetically to start out there on the balcony. I love the way she says she’ll pack her little bags and go back to Vienna where she belongs.
She knows when to go, and for that, the entire auditorium gave her a very warm round of applause.
I have to think that really, it was all for the best: she would not have done well getting over those Alps, apart from not knowing the way, which Maria of course does…Elsa would not have had appropriate footwear.
And I can't think she would have adored Vermont.
This is not part of The Stunt, but something I felt needed to be said.
Hey There Readers:
This is a little bit of a change of pace, but hey, this is why I do divide my time.
More importantly, what is your favourite part of The Sound of Music? With whom do you identify? Would you ever mess with Sister Berta? Do you number amongst the fifth columnists who think Marta is cuter than Gretl? What do you think happens to Uncle Max when the dust settles? Do you think Rolf mends his ways?
What is your favourite song? Have you ever been on the cheesy Sound of Music Tour in Salzburg (I've been six times).
Have you got the TIVO or the DVR all set for Thursday's Oprah reunion? Or are you just pulling a sickky?