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Getting Jazzed for Broadway’s Best: The Sound of Music

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Ted Chapin, President and Chief Creative Officer of Rodgers & Hammerstein, discusses what makes The Sound of Music the quintessential R&H musical, the differences between the movie and stage version, and why PBS viewers will enjoy this special broadcast.

Hi Broadway Babies I'm Elisa Lichtenbaum from Great Performances and we are here today to get super jazzed for Broadway's Best!

I'm sitting here with Ted Chapin who is the President and Chief Creative Officer of the Rodgers and Hammerstein organization we're going to talk about all things Sound of Music Thanks for being here Ted My pleasure [Music] Let's start at the very beginning a very good place to start Do you have a favorite moment or scene or song from the show?

I know that's like asking who's your favorite... who's your favorite von Trapp. I love them all equally.

Right. The way I would answer that which is a little off to the side is... The most interesting moment to me in every different incarnation of The Sound of Music is the song 'Do-Re-Mi' *singing* It was written as the moment when Maria is introduced to the Von Trapp kids, she's never been a governess, that's her line And she has a guitar and the kids are ready to devour her as they have devoured every governess that has come before so there she is and she confesses I've never been a governess before and it's like oh really so they're ready to devour her and she sees the guitar and says I'm gonna teach you how to sing and one of the kids says we don't sing so the song I just think there's an astonishing is her teaching them how to sing and in... good stage productions and this I think goes halfway... the way the song is staged is you see one child at a time winning over to her being won over by her *singing* [Music] a female deer ray a drop of golden sun [Music] mi.. a name I call myself [Music] Far... a long long way to run!

[Music] Sew... a needle pulling thread!

stage version by the end of the song 'Do-Re-Mi' we the audience knows she's gonna be okay with those kids but the story can now move forward *singing* The reason why I have said that Sound of Music is a quintessential Rodgers & Hammerstein musical is in some ways it's a throwback. It's the last show they wrote it is the most popular show of the ones that we license. The second most popular show is Oklahoma which is their first so they it's sort of the bookends *singing* And so many of the of the things about The Sound of Music are kind of quintessentially Rodgers and Hammerstein.

In terms of how the songs are used the fact that there's always a reason why a song is where it is, the songs are good and kind of remarkable that two men in their 60s could write these songs that are youthful they the songs and The Sound of Music are full of youthful spirit and for guys who have been at it for many many years to do that is I think one of the most remarkable of the remarkable aspects of The Sound of Music.

*singing* Not wanting to be a spoiler but know that what you're watching, a television version of it, but what you're watching is what was on the Broadway stage in 1959.

And then also, and we were talking about this before, maybe it's because you know there are some people you know as I said Julian Ovenden from Downton Abbey and many other British dramas that we've aired and Katherine Kelly from Mr. Selfridge like four there were moments where almost like it had the look of I feel like I'm watching I don't want to say it looked like Masterpiece or British drama but it had like this smartness like this sophisticated... When I heard that PBS was gonna air this I thought I didn't have that moment of like 'oh dear... 'What's this gonna be like?' and I thought no you know what I think the PBS audience is gonna like this and I think they will be interested in seeing how in a way it is a little bit of Downton Abbey visits Broadway *singing* Ted thank you so much for joining us today I feel like we could have just spoken for hours My pleasure. I hope we do another Rodgers and Hammerstein musical so that you can come back and talk to us again.

And you can all watch The Sound of Music on Great Performances tomorrow night at 9:00 and it will be streaming the day after on PBS Passport. Enjoy and we'll see you next week... jazz hands!