In 1965, Julie Andrews graced the big screen with her iconic voice and taught the world about a few of her “Favorite Things.”
By November 1966, “The Sound of Music” had become the highest-grossing movie of all time and received five Academy Awards. Directed by Robert Wise, the film remains a musical lover’s staple with songs that people of all ages recognize.
At 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, July 17 in the Amphitheater, the movie musical will return to the big screen, and the Amp will be alive with “The Sound of Music” in the Sing-a-Long-a Sound of Music event as part of the Family Entertainment Series.
In Sing-a-Long-a events, a host leads the audience in vocal warmups and the use of their fun packs. The former Vice President and Director of Programming Marty W. Merkley will serve as host and lead “The Sound of Music” fans through their “magic moments fun pack.”
The fun packs will be given to the first 1,500 people to be used during the event.
Deborah Sunya Moore, vice president of performing and visual arts, said she is excited to have Merkley as host, particularly because of his musical background.
“Marty is a singer,” Moore said. “So he will lead pre-show fun and activities, including walking the audience through what all of their participation points will be and how to use their audience fun pack.”
Moore said that putting on this show, where costumes are encouraged, was an easy decision.
“I decided to have the show because it’s a great community-building event,” Moore said. “Chautauqua is the right place to celebrate and love ‘The Sound of Music.’ ”
The classic Rodgers and Hammerstein musical, set in Austria in the late 1930s, follows a young novice named Maria, played by Andrews, as she becomes a governess for the seven children of Captain von Trapp, played by Christopher Plummer.
From rolling hills outside the Nonnberg Abbey to extravagant mansion parties with Austria’s elite, Maria is whisked away into a new world. Her free spirit sparks trouble for her in her new post, as well as interest from Captain von Trapp.
Maria teaches the children to sing, bringing music back into the house years after their mother died.
“The Sound of Music” is based on a true story — Maria von Trapp’s memoir, which was published in 1949 to help promote her family’s singing group. In 1956, German producer Wolfgang Liebeneiner released his film, “The Trapp Family,” which was a major success. After he released a sequel called “The Trapp Family in America,” the story made its way to American film and musical producers.
The Rodgers and Hammerstein musical hit the Broadway stage in 1959 and won five Tony Awards. In 1960, the story made its way into a screenplay by Ernest Lehman, with one actress in mind for the role of Maria — Andrews.
Since its release on March 2, 1965, “The Sound of Music” has remained a top musical classic for both stage and screen. Now, Sing-a-long-a events sell out at the Hollywood Bowl each year, according to Moore.
“It happens in several different places all throughout the country,” Moore said. “It’s hugely popular.”
Audiences will get to cheer for their favorite characters and sing along to their favorite songs like “My Favorite Things,” “Do-Re-Mi,” “So Long, Farewell,” and “Climb Ev’ry Mountain,” and many others. Moore said she hopes Chautauquans will enjoy an evening of musical fun.
“They’re going to get to applaud for their favorite characters and hiss for those they don’t like, and be a part of one of America’s favorite movies,” Moore said.