Friday 21 July 2017

Meet the ladies who would climb every mountain for... The Sound of Music

They've dressed as nuns, sampled apple strudel and stayed at the hotel that served as the Von Trapp house. As the popular musical opens in Dublin, we meet its most dedicated fans

Anne Bartley from Bray Co Wicklow who is a fan of 'The Sound of Music' pictured dressed as a Nun on Bray Head.
Anne Bartley from Bray Co Wicklow who is a fan of 'The Sound of Music' pictured dressed as a Nun on Bray Head.
Hills are alive: Sound of Music fan Anne Bartley visited Salzburg last year
Mary Clare Wadding (second from left).
Sarah Geraghty and Dorothy Dawson
Sandra Morris
Anne Bartley from Bray Co Wicklow who is a fan of 'The Sound of Music' pictured dressed as a Nun on Bray Head.
Andrea Smith

Andrea Smith

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the 1965 film version of The Sound of Music, the most successful movie musical in history. The winning formula, based on true events, mixes an adorable storyline of religion, grief, sexual awakening and feel-good romance with the darker story of the Nazi occupation of Austria.

Errant novice nun Maria Rainer is sent to act as governess to the seven Von Trapp family children after the death of their mother. Their father, a rigid naval captain, and Maria fall for each other, causing her to flee back to the abbey, but they get married after the Mother Abbess sets her straight about following her heart.

Then they have to escape from Austria when the captain refuses to serve in the German Navy due to his opposition to Nazism.

Of course, much of the appeal lies in the fabulous Rodgers and Hammerstein music, including the spine-tingling Climb Ev'ry Mountain, the funny and whimsical How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria? and the infectious title track.

Thousands of people visit Salzburg annually to see the film's iconic locations.

As the musical officially opens at Bord Gais Energy Theatre, five devoted Irish fans explain why The Sound of Music will always be one of their favourite things....


Sandra, 29, is from Rathfarnham, Dublin, and is a PR manager at FleishmanHillard

"I've lost count of how many times I've watched The Sound of Music. The beautiful music and mischievous children captured my attention as a child, long before I fully understood the storyline.

"My best friend Laura and I visited Salzburg in June and stayed in the magnificent Schloss Leopoldskron, better known as the house from the infamous lake scene. If you aren't a resident guest, you're not able to access the grounds or see the lake and balcony setting.

"The official tour was four hours long, which was pretty intense even for superfans like us. It was amazing to see all of the movie locations around Salzburg, including Nonnberg Abbey and the magnificent Mirabell Gardens, where they filmed the Do-Re-Mi steps and fountain scene. The tour guide had lots of behind-the-scenes secrets, which spoiled a little of the Hollywood magic. We visited the gazebo from the 'Sixteen Going On Seventeen' scene, which is actually one of three identical ones made for the movie - one located in Hollywood and two in Salzburg.

"I think the story appeals to everyone as it's full of joy, fun, adventure and family. There's a love story for the romantics, the war/history/escape storyline for those who like something more serious, and the idyllic childhood full of adventure and fun for the children."


Mary Clare, 31, from Wexford works in finance and has a daughter, Georgie, who's almost two

"When I was a child, my cousins and I went to our granny's every Saturday for lunch and watched The Sound of Music. We fast-forwarded the boring parts, ie the adults talking and the old nun singing. It was years later when I could enjoy it from a whole new perspective, and all of a sudden, the Reverend Mother singing Climb Ev'ry Mountain to Maria was so inspiring and I didn't fast-forward her any more. Most of all, I saw the romantic storyline that I wasn't aware of as a kid, and fell in love with Captain Von Trapp.

"My friend Aoife held her wedding in Zell am See and a day afterwards, my friends Terri, Susan and I booked a hotel in Salzburg and The Sound of Music tour tickets. Our friend Rachel, who lives in London, decided to fly over for the day to join us.

"On the tour, we had apple strudel in Café Braun, where the cast members ate daily during filming. It was surreal to be in the cathedral where the wedding took place, and seeing the long aisle and steps up to the altar - I could almost picture the Captain standing there."

"The tour guide played the soundtrack en route, and we sang along, four-part harmonies and everything. God love the other people on the bus. He pointed out hotels used by Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer during filming. We also ran up the dusty road where Maria sings I Have Confidence, and did a bit of a re-enactment ourselves, until our tour driver started flinging snowballs at us. It's hard to pick a highlight, as it was all so much fun."


Sarah, 30, is a journalist from Dublin, and her cousin Dorothy, 32, is a consultant from Limerick

Sarah: "We've loved The Sound of Music since we were children, and are able to do a full rendition of the Captain's whistle calls for each of the seven children - summers as kids well spent. We giggled through a performance of 'So Long, Farewell' the day after Dorothy's wedding in France, but a joint, lifelong goal was fulfilled in January when Dorothy took me to Salzburg for my 30th birthday."

Dorothy: "There was a quiz on the tour and we got every question right, including one the slightly worried-looking tour guide said she'd never known anyone to get (it was the Untersberg mountain that kept leading them higher and higher "as though it wanted them to go right through the clouds".)

Sarah: We were a bit disappointed that the guide insisted on a good bit of myth-busting. SPOILER ALERT - There was no Gretl, the family didn't flee Austria across the mountains, but on a train, most of the scenes were filmed in a studio in Hollywood and the cast didn't seem to like each other."

"I met Julie Andrews when she came to Dublin for the 50th anniversary. She had an old-Hollywood charm and warmth, and I shook her hand, asked what her favourite song was, and wished Dorothy was there with me. I was a bit dazed after the whole experience, and I'll forever regret not having a photo taken with her, even though it was strictly forbidden."


Anne, 50, lives in Bray, and is a HSE administrator

"Everyone knows me for always singing songs from The Sound of Music, even though I haven't a note in my head. If I'm ever in a bad humour, I put the soundtrack on and it cheers me up and brings back happy childhood memories.

"I've always said I'd love to go to do the tour in Austria, never thinking I'd be able to afford it. For my 50th birthday, the girls in work came dressed as nuns to my party. I have six lovely brothers and the family got together and gave me presents of money, as they were determined to get me to Salzburg. I went for three days in June with my great friend, Sandra Lennon. She's quite shy, so I didn't tell her that I had brought two nun costumes - I'd say she's still in counselling over that!"

"I got off the plane singing 'The Hills are Alive', and there were couples taking pictures of us, and I was blessing people with my cross. It was brilliant fun.

"On a scale of one to 10, the trip was 200 for me. Salzburg was really beautiful and the tour was fantastic. We were the only two singing along, but we didn't care and loved every minute of it. We're thinking of going back this Christmas, and I've booked to see the show twice at Bord Gais and I can't wait."

The Sound of Music is running at the Bord Gais Energy Theatre until August 29.

Irish Independent

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