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The sound of the musical

Story added 11th Mar 2015

The Sound of Music, illustration by Reena Makwana c.2015

2015 marks the 50th anniversary of the much-loved, big screen adaptation of The Sound of Music. The film which stars Dame Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer is an adaptation of the 1959 Rodgers and Hammerstein Broadway musical inspired by the 1949 memoir of Maria Von Trapp.

The popularity of musical theatre is as strong today as fifty years ago - in this year's Olivier Awards, musicals lead the nominations announced in March ahead of the results in April.

Maria’s story had already made it onto cinema screens in the 1958 German film The Trapp Family but it was Robert Wise’s take on the wannabe nun, turned reluctant tutor and her brood of singing children fleeing Nazi occupied Austria that proved a box office smash. The film bagged five out of its ten Academy Award nominations including the Oscars for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Music, Scoring of Music and Best Sound Mixing. Having won the Best Actress award for Mary Poppins the year before, Julie Andrews lost the 1965 accolade to Julie Christie for her role in gritty British drama Darling. 

The 1965 movie soundtrack went on to sell over 16 million copies around the world, becoming the UK’s biggest-selling album in 1965, 1966 and 1968 and clocking in as the second biggest selling album of the 1960s behind The Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Heart’s Club Band. The film itself is considered one highest grossing films of all time. 

The Sound of Music is one of a long line of Hollywood musicals since the talkies of the 1920s began, delivering sound and vision to cinema audiences with Broadway providing ample musical theatre productions that the Hollywood studios fought over and continue to do so. Stage hits including, Oklahoma!, South Pacific, The King and I, On The Town and West Side Story all proved popular on screen. Recent movies including Les Misérables, Mamma Mia, Annie and Into the Woods prove the musical remains a big box office draw. 

In turn, stage producers have adapted films for the stage complete with new songs. London’s West End has played host to a number of screen-to-stage adaptations including Shrek, The Lord Of The Rings, Made In Dagenham and Women On The Verge Of A Nervous Breakdown. Take a gander through Theatreland and you’ll find musical stalwarts including Billy Elliott, Les Misérables, The Phantom of the Opera and The Lion King, as well as newer productions including Sunny Afternoon (written by Kinks frontman Ray Davies), Memphis the Musical and Beautiful - the Carole King Musical.

Meanwhile, The Sound Of Music enjoys a new lease of life through regular Sing-a-Long-A Sound Of Music nights including at its regular home at the Prince Charles Cinema in Leicester Square, and here at Build you can get you fix of the musical too, with our musical theatre, film and singing classes - proving that the musical, whether on stage or screen, remains one of our favourite things.

Why not try…

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