Meet 18 young theater stars from PH to play the von Trapp children
Julie Andrews’ 1965 movie “The Sound of Music” continues to transcend generations with its timeless story of love and family, and most especially a beautiful musical repertoire that allows it to resonate with audiences of any age.
As such, even if the film was labeled as “cosy-cum-corny” (Bosley Crowther, The New York Times) or “(a) sugarcoated lie that people seem to want to eat” (Pauline Kael, McCall’s Magazine), during its first release, it won five Academy Awards in 1966, including Best Picture, while enjoying an unprecedented box office performance.
The Sound of Music went on to become 1965’s highest-grossing film and by November 1966, the highest-grossing film of all-time, surpassing the then-25-year-old classic, “Gone with the Wind.”
Putting all these into perspective, box-office reporting site boxofficemojo.com concludes that if The Sound of Music’s $158,671,368 earnings in 1965 would be adjusted to 2017’s ticket price inflation, it would have made $1,266,072,700 at the box-office.
On to the stage
No one has dared remake what is now considered the cinematic gem that is The Sound of Music on film, but musical theater has found it to be a crowd drawer in stage adaptations through the years. After all, the original Broadway and West End productions in 1959 and 1961 served as the inspiration to the film version.
As such, the original Broadway production New York won five Tony Awards, with multiple revivals both in New York and London as well as other parts of the world.
Today, given the musical’s timeless appeal, The Sound of Music continues to be a go-to production of theater companies, the latest of which is an upcoming Manila run in September by the London West End Production.
Brought into the country by Lunchbox Theatrical Productions and Concertus Manila, The Sound of Music Manila will be staged at The Theatre at Solaire from September 27 to October 15.
Like the touring show’s productions in Singapore, New Zealand and China, the Manila leg tapped local talents to play not just a member of the ensemble or a supporting role in the musical but six of the seven von Trapp children themselves.
An international production at its core, Concertus Manila related how the selection process for Manila’s von Trapp children was nothing short of arduous.
At their press presentation, the company explained how they finally chose 18 Filipino youngsters to alternate in the roles of Capt. von Trapp’s precocious brood.
“The audition was set in May and around 400 children from across the country—some flying in from as far as Iloilo, Cebu and Bacolod—showed up,” Anna Yulo of Concertus Manila recalled.
A two-weekend audition ensued with the last comprising a three-day intensive selection.
Besides paying close attention for quality of voice and similarities with the von Trapps’ characteristics, even the applicants’ height were accurately measured.
“It was very specific, down to the last centimeter in order to create the iconic scene where the von Trapp children were lined up from oldest to youngest as the Captain introduced them to Maria. It just shows how they want to create the musical as close to the original,” Yulo added.
After a round of elimination, only a few of the auditionees were able to sing a couple of lines for Jonny Bowles—the production’s children’s director, who flew in from London to oversee the auditions—before eventually being picked for acting, filming and riding.
Bowles then took the profile and tapes of 35 children for further scrutiny back to London, finally casting the following:
Orenci Ken Soleta, Kyle Robert Rafana and Joseph Alexander Leggatt will play the eldest boy, Friedrich. Gwyneth Jearei Dorado, Angelica Mabutin and Quinn O’Hara will play the third child, Louisa.
Tory Gil Emilo Cortez, Dean Adhiel Angelia and James Christian Hess will altenate as Kurt. Young theater stars Krystal Brimner (Resorts World Manila’s “Annie”) and Rayne Yssibel Cortez (Repertory Philippines’ “Hansel And Gretel”) and Sophia Isabella Reyes will play Brigitta.
Chosen for the two youngest von Trapp children are Samantha Lagman, Leani Columna and Princess Aliyah Rabara for the role of Marta, and Jia Ruth Lauren Condino, Alysha Mari Africa and Faline Dorado as Gretl.
The experience of this mix of theater regulars and newbies may have been taxing but when asked by the press to describe it themselves, they were unanimous in saying it was “fun and exciting.”
Meanwhile, playing the role of Maria alongside these 18 talented kids is Carmen Pretorious, South Africa’s prize talent, who incidentally first played the eldest von Trapp, Liezl, before taking on the iconic lead.
The actors playing Captain von Trapp and Leizl in the Manila leg will comprise Concertus Manila’s next big announcement.