Lucy O'Byrne in The Sound of Music

Twelve Fascinating Facts about The Sound of Music

Posted on 17 January 2018

With Bill Kenwright’s lavish new production of The Sound of Music heading for to Coventry next month, we’ve been hunting down some fascinating facts about the musical and the classic film that it inspired. Ahead of the show’s arrival on our Main Stage 6-10 February, here are twelve things you might not know about the The Sound of Music.

1. It might look effortless on screen, but in reality, Julie Andrews struggled to stay upright during the iconic mountaintop singing scene. Parts of the scene were shot from a helicopter overhead, which kept knocking her over with its down draught.

2. In Italy, The Sound of Music is known as “Tutti insieme appassionamente”, which translates as “All Together Passionately”

3. Two years before being cast in The Sound of Music film, Julie Andrews starred in a spoof of the stage production titled “The Pratt Family Singers”, as part of the 1962 TV special Julie and Carol at Carnegie Hall.

4. In 1967, two years after the iconic film was released, Coventry singer Vince Hill had a Number 2 hit with his recording of the show song “Edelweiss”.

5. Christopher Plummer – who recently caused something of a social media storm after replacing Kevin Spacey in All the Money in the World – is best known for playing the role of Captain Georg von Trapp in The Sound of Music on screen. But did you know it’s not actually his singing voice you can hear in the film? The voice behind “Edelweiss” and other classic songs is in fact that of Bill Lee, a veteran playback singer whose other credits include providing the singing voice of Roger in the animated One Hundred and One Dalmatians.

6. The real-life Maria, whose memoirs were the basis for the show, was not employed as a governess to all of Georg von Trapp’s children, but as a tutor to Maria Franziska (renamed Louisa in the film), who had to be taught from home after contracting scarlet fever.

The Sound of Music Lucy OByrne

7. The songs we know and love almost never existed! The original German film, The Trapp Family, featured a soundtrack of Austrian folk songs, and The Sound of Music was originally set to follow suit, with Paramount producers Richard Halliday and Leland Heyward initially approaching Rodgers and Hammerstein to compose just one song. In the end, however, it was felt that the style of the number they created was not a good fit with the rest of the soundtrack, so the producers agreed to wait for the legendary songwriting duo to create a new score after finishing work on Flower Drum Song.

8. The title song was used in a 2013 case study on American dementia patients, which successfully demonstrated that singing show tunes such as those from The Sound of Music can help boost brain function. According to the findings, singing sessions had the most profound effect on those with moderate to severe dementia, leading to patients scoring higher on cognitive and drawing tests as well as on a “satisfaction-with-life” questionnaire at the end of the study.

9. The real von Trapp family villa, located at Traunstraße 34, Aiegen 5026, was much less grand than the mansion depicted on screen. Unlike in the fictionalised story, it was also not the family’s ancestral home. In fact, Georg von Trapp moved to the Salzburg villa shortly after the death of his first wife in 1922.

10. Nicholas Hammond – who played Friedrich in the film – grew an amazing six inches taller during its six months of shooting, going from 5ft 3” to 5ft 9”! Special measures had to be taken to ensure he appeared the same height relative to his co-stars. At the start of filming, he wore lifts on his shoes. By the end, it was Charmian Carr, who playing Liesl, who had to stand on a box in scenes alongside him. Hammond later went on to play the very first on-screen Spider-Man, long before Tobey Maguire, Andrew Garfield or Tom Holland.

The Sound of Music Bill Kenwright

11. By November 1966, The Sound of Music had become the third highest grossing film of all time, surpassing Gone With the Wind and holding its record for five years. It broke box office records in 29 countries, selling 283 million tickets worldwide and earning a total of $286,000,000. Adjusted for inflation, it remains the fifth highest grossing film of all time today.

12. Librettist Oscar Hammerstein II never got to witness the phenomenon that was the film adaptation, dying just nine months after the show’s original Broadway premiere in 1959. During his illustrious career, he won a total of eight Tony Awards and two Academy Awards for Best Original Song, and co-wrote 850 different songs, collaborating with numerous composers such as Jerome Kern (with whom he co-wrote Show Boat), Vincent Youmans, Rudolf Friml, Richard A. Whiting and Sigmund Romberg as well as his best-known writing partner, Richard Rodgers.