TUTS' Sound of Music: The Nuns Will Be Singing But Thank God They Don't Have to Tap Dance

It's been years since Roy Hamlin, associate artistic director at Theatre Under the Stars, has had anything to do with The Sound of Music -- not since his high school days when he was playing Uncle Max.

Now he gets to direct it professionally, to do the one-more-time thing at Hobby Center this December. And, he insists, that people who think there's nothing there for them but chestnuts with hair growing on them, should think again.

"There's some talk about our season being rather tame this year. I'd say we have comfort-food offerings with a gourmet touch. It's nice for families to do something together. Seeing it live," Hamlin told us on his way to take in a performance of Bat Boy at Texas State.

"Actually we're doing some things with the production in the Hobby Center that we've never tried before," he said before declining to be particularly specific. "I don't want to give out all the surprises."

Of course, people brought up on the 1965 movie starring Julie Andrews will be alarmed/intrigued by the differences between the stage and movie version.

Although the modern-day stage version was able to incorporate some of the songs from the movie -- "I Have Confidence" and the duet "Something Good" -- it stays true to/is stuck with the 1959 Rodgers and Hammerstein libretto.

Which means some of the songs will be sung in a different order than they appeared in the movie and by different characters, Hamlin said. And the story line isn't an exact match.

Besides the fact that with all those von Trapp kids, it gives TUTS a chance to show off some of its students in its Humphreys School of Musical Theatre, Hamlin says it's good that this really isn't a dancing show.

"This is one of the lovely pieces where there's a lot of singing but it's not a huge dance musical. The tradition of music theater back in the day, in the golden age, is that you had a singing chorus and a dancing chorus and then the actors. But the economies changed, the concept of the shows changed and we got what was known as a triple threat -- somebody who could do all three things, sing dance and act.

"Those people are kind of few and far between and there's not a lot of ongoing work in Houston for such artists. If they're very good at it they tend to move on," he said.

"But this show, there's a whole group of nuns and they're primarily there to sing. There's so many wonderful singing character actresses in Houston that finally I can look at them and not have to worry about whether they can tap dance."

The Sound of Music is at the Hobby Center December 8-20. Ticket information is available by phone at 713-558-8887 or at the TUTS Box Office, 800 Bagby at Walker or online at TUTS.com and at thehobbycenter.org.

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