As the final performances of  The Sound of Music  draw closer (it closes May 25!), you might think that our production staff has seen it all. But you'd be wrong! Here are a few of the highlights of the show from the point of view of our design staff.

As the final performances of The Sound of Music draw closer (it closes May 25!), you might think that our production staff has seen it all. From acrobats to valkyries, they have handled almost any challenge that a production might throw their way. But even for people who have climbed every logistical mountain, Lyric's new production of The Sound of Music has some very impressive elements. Here are a few of the highlights of the show from the point of view of our design staff.  

The Mountains

The mountains Maria comes down at the beginning of the show and the family climbs up at the end are digitally printed and glued to a wooden cutout. They were made in Wales, traveled to Canada by ship, and came to Chicago by train, after a few delays at customs!

The von Trapp Villa

What you see on stage as the front of the von Trapp's house is actually the back of the real von Trapp family home in Salzburg. And there might not be a gazebo in Lyric's production, but there is a great fountain, perfect for dancing.

The Sheer Size of the Set

We almost ran out of theater! During the preset for the show (when the stage crew loads in all the sets and builds them), we were about 1 foot from touching the back wall of the space. 

The Uniforms

The Nazis, priests, and altar boys uniforms are all rented, perhaps with a touch of irony, from Angels Costumiers, located in London. This is the same company that built the military uniforms for Lyric's new production of The Barber of Seville earlier this season. The rest of the Austrian clothing was purchased from websites that specialize in festival wear. 

The Suits

Paul Chang is the tailor for the show. A set of tails were made by Paul for Edward Hibbert.  We need to turn these set of tails into a jumpsuit with zipper up the back for a quick change during the party scene. "Presto, change-o!"

Maria's Bedroom Armoire

Brian Smith, Lyric's carpenter, made the armoire that you see on stage during "The Lonely Goatherd."  It is being built to the specifications that it is a replica of the one in the 1956 German film The Trapp Family, which was also based on the von Trapp's story and made before the stage and theatrical version of The Sound of Music.  The armoire used in that film was an actual piece of furniture from the Von Trapp family home.

Maria - Best Dressed Nun Award

The beautiful costumes for Jenn Gambatese were built in New York by Marianne Krostyne, who is this year's winner of the prestigious TDF Irene Sharaff "2014 Artisan of the Year" Award. Maria has  9 costumes total:  postulant, the Ugly Dress, sleepwear, play clothes (dirndl), party dress, the new postulant suit for her return, wedding dress, traveling/honeymoon suit, and festival performance outfit. Go Maria!!

The Nuns

Tons of research went into designing these costumes. Who knew there were so many different variations? The rosaries were especially made for the show, except for vintage ones purchased for Mother Abbess, Maria, and Sisters Sophia, Margaretta, and Berthe. We were going to purchase for the rest of the nuns, but couldn't because we are not a religious organization. 

The Beautiful Cast

Elizabeth Futral and Billy Zane are both very easy on the eyes. Elizabeth looks stunning in her 3 costumes also made by Marianne Krostyne, two day dresses and a beautiful ball gown. And Billy Zane looks amazing in Alejo Vietti's designs that include an Austrian suit, his wedding uniform, tails, and two suits, tailored by Paul Chang, who also made suits for Billy when he was shooting an unaired episode of NBC's The Playboy Club (which was filmed here in Chicago).  

Photo credits:

  • Jenn Gambatese as Maria comes down the mountain (credit Todd Rosenberg / Lyric Opera of Chicago)
  • The von Trapp villa in Lyric's production (credit Todd Rosenberg / Lyric Opera of Chicago) & the real von Trapp home in Salzburg (courtesy Villa Trapp)
  • The von Trapp children say goodnight (credit Robert Kusel / Lyric Opera of Chicago)
  • A stormtrooper in uniform (credit Todd Rosenberg / Lyric Opera of Chicago)
  • Edward Hibbert as Max Detweiler (credit Todd Rosenberg / Lyric Opera of Chicago)
  • Friedrich (Brady Tutton) hides in Maria's armoire (credit Todd Rosenberg / Lyric Opera of Chicago)
  • Maria's many costumes (credit Todd Rosenberg / Lyric Opera of Chicago)
  • The nuns of The Sound of Music (credit Todd Rosenberg / Lyric Opera of Chicago)
  • Elizabeth Futral and Billy Zane as Elsa Schraeder and Captain von Trapp (credit Todd Rosenberg / Lyric Opera of Chicago)