Many people know that Australians are sports mad and usually this passion is on show at sports grounds and arenas around the country each weekend. Last Sunday afternoon I was part of a 1 700 strong crowd that took all of the usual verve we Aussies bring to the sports field and put in on show for nothing less than the world’s favourite musical: The Sound of Music.
The Sound of Music Sing-a-long-a at the State Theatre in Sydney put me in mind of a football match. We barracked and clapped for our team (the goodies: Maria, Captain von Trapp and the children) like any one-eyed footy supporter and we booed and hissed our opponents (the baddies: the Baroness and the Nazis) just as loudly and emotionally. At least half of the crowd were dressed up in their team colours: nuns, brown paper packages tied up with string, girls in white dresses with blue satin sashes and of course a number of von Trapps in ugly, 70s inspired curtain material.
If you have never been to a Sound of Music Sing-a-long-a and you are a Sound of Music devotee, then you are truly missing out. I wouldn’t call myself a passionate Sound of Music supporter but I have been known to sing the odd ‘Do Re Mi’ and The Sound of Music seems to be a rite of passage that at least all young girls go through at some stage. I admit to imagining my own wedding gown after seeing Maria glide up the aisle to the heavenly sounds of the Abbey choir. The world of The Sound of Music was all the more poignant being based on a true story. A true story I never really bothered to follow up in detail as I knew instinctively it would be far less romantic than what Rogers & Hammerstein gave us.
To me the Sing-a-long-a was The Sound of Music as a team sport. There were even props that we waved like team flags and of course chants (‘Do Re Mi’) and team songs we sang to inspire us (‘Edelweiss’). The Sing-a-long-a crowd gets warmed up by the MC who explains the ‘rules’ of the game and then she blows the whistle and it is game on.
The lights dim and that familiar scene of snow-capped mountain peaks appears on the huge movie screen and then gives way as we zoom down to the grassy meadows above Salzburg. Suddenly a small dot appears on the horizon running towards us arms outstretched. “She’s here, she’s here, she’s here” shouts the crowd as Maria (Julie Andrews) embraces ‘her’ mountains; the hills are alive with the sound of music and the 1 700 strong crowd are off and away.
The original movie plot supported by an amazingly durable and hard to get out of your head score takes us into the last days of a free Austria before World War II. The real tension is of course played out between Captain von Trapp and the irrepressible Maria who the Baroness quite rightly points out is very unlikely to become a nun.
On Sunday, we all watched in knowing anticipation as love blossomed. The crowd went wild as the Captain and Maria kissed for the first time and the sound of 1 700 party poppers going off in unison momentarily drowned out The Sound of Music. I looked around and saw smiles, laughter and the occasional tear. I guess everyone was a winner on the day.