Broadway star Jenn Gambatese and Hollywood hunk Billy Zane are anchoring Lyric's critically acclaimed production of The Sound of Music as Maria and Captain von Trapp. However, they are just the latest in a long line of talented actors to fill these iconic roles. Here are a few of the other famous (and unexpected!) actors who have taken on the challenge.

Broadway star Jenn Gambatese and Hollywood hunk Billy Zane are anchoring Lyric's critically acclaimed production of The Sound of Music as Maria and Captain von Trapp. However, they are just the latest in a long line of talented actors to fill these iconic roles. Everyone knows about Mary Martin and Theodore Bikel (who created the roles on Broadway), Julie Andrew and Christopher Plummer (who starred in the film), and Carrie Underwood, and Stephen Moyer (who were the headliners in NBC's recent live broadcast). But here are a few of the other famous (and unexpected!) actors who have taken on The Sound of Music on Broadway, for recordings, and even in high school musicals.

Florence Henderson - This future Brady Bunch star was Maria in the national touring production of The Sound of Music  in 1961-1962. Here she is performing the title song at the 1971 Tony Awards:

 

And in this interview, she talks about her experience with the touring company and how she idolized Mary Martin:

 

Shirley Jones - Not just another TV mom, Shirley Jones is a Rodgers and Hammerstein stalwart, having starred in the screen adaptations of both Oklahoma! and Carousel. She took on Maria in 1966 for the Westbury Music Fair. Here she is singing the title song from The Bell Telephone Hour series:

 

Laura Benanti and Richard Chamberlain - You might have seen her as Elsa Schraeder in NBC's recent live production, but Tony winner Laura Benanti already had a long history with the musical. She was the understudy for Rebecca Luker's Maria in the original cast of the 1998 Broadway revival. She would take over the role at age 19 with legendary actor Richard Chamberlain as Captain von Trapp, who was 65 going on 66 at the time.

Mare Winningham and Kevin Spacey - She played Maria to Kevin Spacey's Captain von Trapp in a production at Chatsworth High School in California's San Fernando Valley during Spacey's senior year (1976-77). Here the two of them are in the production, and Spacey recently mentioned the role during an interview on Sunday Morning on CBS.

Petula Clark - Best known as the voice of swinging London with such hits as "Downtown" and "I Know a Place," Petula Clark starred in the 1981 West End revival. Here she is singing "Do Re Mi" with the von Trapp children during a rehearsal:

 

Debby Boone - This Grammy winner lit up the stage (and our lives!) as Maria in Lincoln Center's 30th anniversary revival of the show in 1990.

Frederica von Stade - She took on Maria for a recorded version released by Telarc in 1987 with the Cincinnati Pops Orchestra. And playing the Mother Abbess? Eileen Farrell!

Photo credits

  • Billy Zane and Jenn Gambatese in Lyric's production of The Sound of Music (credit Todd Rosenberg / Lyric Opera of Chicago)
  • Debby Boone in The Sound of Music (credit Carol Rosegg / Martha Swope Associates)
  • Richard Chamberlain and Laura Benanti in The Sound of Music (credit Sara Krulwich / New York Times)
  • Kevin Spacey and Mare Winningham in The Sound of Music (courtesy KevinSpacey.com)

(Lyric Opera of Chicago does not own copyrights to any of the above videos.)