December 12, 2017 | MANILA, PHILIPPINES

Looking for the Von Trapp kids

HOW DO you solve a problem like the children? The children being the cast members that Jonny Bowles, the resident director of the West End production of The Sound of Music, came to the Philippines to scout for. He was searching for three sets of children to play the roles of the Von Trapp kids -- Friedrich, Louisa, Kurt, Brigitta, Marta, and Gretl -- for the Manila run of the touring musical which is set for September at The Theatre in Solaire.

At each of the production’s tour stops, local children will tackle the roles of the Von Trapps, performing beside the seasoned actors playing the adult characters.

The solution to his problem turned out to be quite easy: look for the children who could hold people’s attention and who themselves had a long attention span. During a break in the auditions at Whitespace in Makati City this weekend, he told BusinessWorld that besides the ability to sing, act, and dance, he was on the lookout for someone who could “concentrate well, and could switch on with the role.”

“Some children were daydreaming and looking at the ceiling,” he said, smiling.

Nearly 500 children auditioned on May 12 to 14 from whom the production team could sift through and chose the lucky 18 who would play the roles. In the crowd of prospective Von Trapps, BusinessWorld spotted child actress and the recent Gawad Buhay recipient Krystal Brimner of Annie and Honor Thy Father fame.

The result of the auditions were not yet final, said Mr. Bowles, as he would still have to talk with the rest of the production team.

“For local children to have the chance to star on stage with actors with calibre in an international production from London’s West End will be a dream come true and the chance of a lifetime. You never know where an opportunity such as this could take you,” James Cundall, producer of The Sound of Music in Manila and chief executive officer of Lunchbox Theatrical Productions, said in a statement.

The musical is co-presented in Manila by Lunchbox Theatrical Productions, Concertus Manila, and David Atkins Enterprises. The show is produced by Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Really Useful Company and David Ian Productions.

The final list of the three sets of Von Trapp kids will be released soon, and their rehearsals will begin in August.

The well-loved musical, which is set to run in Manila from Sept. 27 until Oct. 15, tells the tale of Maria, a fun and optimistic governess, who changes the lives and outlooks of the widowed Captain Von Trapp and his children through her music. Some of the show’s iconic songs include “Do-Re-Mi,” “My Favorite Things,” and “Maria.”

The original Broadway production of The Sound of Music in 1959 won six Tony awards, while the 1965 movie featuring Julie Andrews as Maria bagged five Oscars, and has remained one of the most popular films in history. The last time The Sound of Music was produced in Manila was in 2011. -- Nickky Faustine P. de Guzman