(Photo Credit: Matthew Murphy)
The Sound Of Music has been one of the most beloved musicals in history. With Julie Andrews being the famous face of The Sound Of Music in its film production in 1965, this creation from Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II has continued to touch hearts for generations afterwards, more so recently with the gigantically revered Carrie Underwood led television production and Lady Gaga's amazing performance at the Oscars.
The Sound Of Music continues to touch on the universal themes that are timeless and its current touring production is no different. I was able to talk to a fellow Detroit native and The Sound Of Music cast member Teri Hansen about the relevancy of the famed musical even here in 2016 and how she connects to her character Elsa Schraeder.
What goes through your mind when you are a part of this big touring musical and you get to go back home and show all your friends and family you're doing?
It's funny because I've never thought of it that way. It's so interesting that you say that. I always feel like what I do is such a gift. When you are touring or in the "Broadway Army" sort of as we call it, you get to experience so many wonderful things, different cultures, different cities, different theaters, amazing theaters, historic theaters, new theaters, venerable theaters, and I have friends and family in nearly every town we go to. It's so extraordinary to know that they're out there and to be on this adventure that I have been on for quite some time now. Its an incredible way to go back home.
How does this incarnation of The Sound Of Music differ than the previous productions and how does it connect with what's going on in 2016?
Our production is unique in many ways. I feel I can speak on that because it is my third production. Of course, I grew up, like many people, watching The Sound Of Music on TV with Julie Andrews. I saw the Carrie Underwood show, the highest rated event in the history of television, and also Lady Gaga's performance on the Oscar's, which was incredible. Jack O'Brien, who is also a Michigander from Saginaw, is venerable and three-time Tony Award winning director. He was approached by Rogers and Hammerstein to direct this show. He did not have a relationship with this show prior to. He said 'I'll do it, but I'll only to it if you let me everything I want and work with people I choose.' Jack wanted to really tap into what your second question addresses, the relevance of The Sound Of Music today in 2016 in 21st century, not only because we're dealing with what I call "reality musical theater", where this is a true story. This is not fiction. This is not fantasy. These are real people who really experienced these events. I think one of the differences is the sense of urgency that Jack has brilliantly imbued into our production. It is a fast moving story telling with an undercurrent of danger and the love and the hope and the dreams and the relationships are moving quickly because we're at a time of war and that accelerates things. It's chemistry. It makes things go faster. It makes people understand that time is of the essence. When people come and see our production, they comment on how they never seen The Sound Of Music before, that this is such not only a reincarnation, but a re-envisioning of the original stage production.
You've played the role of Elsa Schraeder three times already. What is it about this role that connects to you?
I did a film with Sally Field years ago. I had a small part. I played a band singer after the turn of the century, like 1928 or something like that. The film was called A Woman of Independent Means and I believe that's what I am. That is at the root of Elsa. She and I are very similar in many ways. People love to hate Elsa. She's really not a character that is unsympathetic. She's highly intelligent. She does not view anything outside of her own ability to survive as a necessity. She is completely and totally a one-woman show, unless she chooses otherwise. Its not out of spite or anything. She is a lover of life. She loves to laugh. She loves to enjoy fine food and fine clothing. She lives in a grand style in 1938, an unusual style in 1938. She's president and CEO of her own company. I happen to be president and CEO of my own company in addition to being an actor. I have a PhD, though it be honorary. I love life. I love to laugh. I'm passionate about living and sitting at this grand buffet that we are allowed to sit at which is life and dining with my friends and family. This tour enables me to do that hitting I don't even know how many cities we've hit in the 8 months, but its extraordinary. I love it, love it, love it.
What is the overall message of The Sound Of Music?
I would say the biggest message is overcoming obstacles to pursue your dream. In The Sound Of Music, it's the mountains. Climb every mountain. Ford every stream. Follow every rainbow until you find your dream, which seems overly simplistic, but they are profound. Those mountains, as they were in the film, the Alps served as sort of another leading character. I think rightly so. They are majestic. They are beautiful. They are daunting. They represent freedom. Literally at the end of the show, the Von Trapp family, with the seven children in tow, must ascend and navigate those mountains in order to retreat them.