Talkin’ Broadway: The Sound of Music

Originally published on Talkin’ Broadway.

When I was in high school, my drama teacher absolutely refused to even consider mounting a production of The Sound of Music, claiming that once the movie was made, it was pointless to do the show without the actual Alps in the background, not to mention the unfairness of asking a young actress to compete with the indelible image of Julie Andrews. And surely, approaching a production of The Sound of Music in an age when two generations have been brought up on the classic film must leave many directors asking themselves, “How do you solve a problem like Maria?” Happily, director Jane Staab at the Wheelock Family Theatre has found the answer in the person of Angela Williams, a Maria so effervescent that by the time the Von Trapp children are introduced, you’ll be saying “Julie Who?”

While both the Boston press and the Talkin’ Broadway chatterati have said much about Maria being played by an African-American woman – even the one-paragraph publicity blurb makes sure to describe Williams as a gospel singer – you will forget it ever mattered once Williams bursts through the doors of the theatre to sing the timeless title song. Fear not – she sings the score with a perfectly appropriate Broadway style, not a single gospel inflection in evidence. But what a voice she has! And what charm! Williams is the real thing, an actress who makes Maria believable without becoming syrupy, a singer who handles the ballads and up-tempos equally as well, and most importantly, a real star presence who nonetheless allows the rest of the ensemble to shine.  Continue reading

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