Q&A with Brady Tutton and Isabelle Roberts.
In Act Two, Jenn Gambatese, fourth from left, as Maria, sings with the von Trapp children after being reunited Thursday, April 24, 2014 in a dress rehearsal of "The Sound of Music" at Lyric Opera of Chicago.
Talk about favorite things: The beloved “Sound of Music” opened this weekend at the Lyric Opera in a grand new production. The Rodgers and Hammerstein classic bases its story very loosely on the autobiography of Maria von Trapp, a nun-in-training who instead became the loving matriarch of a family of singers—a widower with seven children—who together fled Nazi-controlled Austria. The musical, of course, is most famous for its Oscar-winning film adaptation; the original theatrical version has some different songs, as recently heard during NBC’s live TV production this past December.
The trick with mounting any live production is not finding talented adult leads (although some critics complained that NBC didn’t seem to get that memo when it cast Carrie Underwood as Maria); the trick is casting talented young performers. The Lyric’s artistic team found all seven of its von Trapps in the Chicago area. We spoke to two of them, 12-year-old Brady Tutton (Friedrich) and 11-year-old Isabelle Roberts (Brigitta).
Just Kidding: This isn’t the first live musical for either of you. But I’m guessing it’s the largest stage you’ve ever performed on?
Brady: It’s crazy! I got lost the first time I was here. I thought I was in a warehouse.
Isabelle: It’s just so big! We went into the lobby for the first time, and then the balcony and finally got to see what the set looks like from the audience’s point-of-view. It’s amazing.
Brady: I’m a little bit jealous of the people who get to watch it. I promise you, it’s really cool.
Isabelle: [With other theater productions] there’s usually one really cool set. But here, you go from the abbey to the house to Paris. Even the Nazi concert-hall stage, and the mountain! So much fun.
What’s your first memory of “The Sound of Music”?
Isabelle: I saw the movie, that was definitely the first time. I remember thinking, “Oh, it’s so long.” There’s even a spot in the movie where it says “intermission,” and I thought, “Oh, it’s only half through!”
Brady: I’ve never seen the movie, only parts of it.
Brady: I know, I know, I know. But I remember hearing the song “Do Re Mi,” and I thought, “Those aren’t even words.” I finally saw the scene in the movie and I thought it was really cool. Usually movies are about kids who are really into sports, and I was always the theater dude who never knew what was happening in the football game. So I felt like I could relate to [the von Trapps].
What’s your favorite song in the show,?
Brady: My favorite song has to be “Edelwiess” [sung by Captain von Trapp]. I think it’s the most beautiful song. Billy Zane is a rock star, and he makes me tear up a bit.
Isabelle: I agree, I love “Edelweiss” too. People don’t know Billy Zane can sing, because most people know him from “Titanic.”
Has performing in the show given you a better understanding of that time in history? Brady: In school, we learned a little bit about it, but I feel like the teachers don’t really want to talk about the war because it’s such a troubling sad thing. I never understood the full weight of it. The show doesn’t really hit you in the face with it, but it does teach you something. I think that’s good.
Isabelle: More than the movie, the show covers what the politics were really like during that time period, during the Holocaust. The final scene [in the musical], running away from the Nazis and hiding in the abbey, we had to experiment with ways to sit so no one could see us. I was thinking, “Gosh, I’m getting scared and it’s not even for real. But this happened to people!” It’s just crazy, kind of unbelievable.
How do you balance your burgeoning acting careers with school?
Brady: That’s a great question! I’m still working on that one. I love my teacher; she rocks. She works so hard to make sure I succeed in school, to make it possible for me to get my homework done.
Isabelle: I usually stay on task at school, and do as much as I can there. I email teachers if I have any questions. I would, if I could, do my homework in the car, but I get carsick.Tags: concert, film, movie, music, singer, tv