Lyric Opera of Chicago

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Captains and Marias Galore!

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.) 

Have you heard? THE SOUND OF MUSIC is a hit!

The reviews are in…and they are spectacular! Critics are raving about Lyric's new production of  The Sound of Music. Here's a sampling of what they are saying about the fantastic cast, lavish sets, and gorgeous music.

The reviews are in…and they are spectacular! Critics are raving about Lyric's new production of The Sound of Music. Here's a sampling of what they are saying:

The larger-than-life production

"The Lyric Opera of Chicago finds a sweet Alpine spot with director Marc Bruni's admirably lively new production of 'The Sound of Music,' a lavish yet accessible and family-oriented affair that features…gorgeous picture-book design from Michael Yeargan…" - Chris Jones, Chicago Tribune

"Lyric’s extraordinary production, elegantly directed by Marc Bruni, takes all the great qualities of the show to present a grand scale, stunning production the likes of which we haven’t seen in a long time." - Betty Mohr, Le Bon Travel and Culture 

The Sound of Music "make[s] full use of the Civic Opera House's grand stage, from towering tableaus of the abbey to the irresistible moment when all seven of the von Trapp children ride onstage on matching but custom-sized bicycles—talk about commitment to a production aesthetic." - Kris Vire, Time Out Chicago

"Lyric Opera of Chicago's 'The Sound of Music' is every bit the grand production you'd expect from one of the country's leading opera companies." - Barbara Vitello, Daily Herald

The beloved story

"It's remarkable how such a well-known story can still generate chuckles and gasps, even upon the umpteenth viewing" - Elizabeth Diffin, Chicago Parent 

The fantastic cast

"I can't recall a revival so perfectly cast." - Roy Leonard, Chicago Now

"…pert-yet-powerful [Jenn] Gambatese…makes this role her own. She has a broad smile that matches her captivating performance that leaves the heart warmed and the spirited lifted with her every song note." - Phil Potempa, Northwest Indiana Times

"…tying it together, providing that intangible element allowing this 'Music' to really sing, is Gambatese’s brilliant portrayal of Maria." - Barry Reszel, Make It Better

"Billy Zane…has just the right tone for the stern Captain whose militaristic demeanor melts away when he realizes that Maria has brought back music into his life" - Roy Leonard, Chicago Now

"…the seven von Trapp children—pros beyond their years—are the production's greatest delight…" - Deanna Isaacs, Chicago Reader

"Beautifully majestic…Christine Brewer as the Mother Abbess. Her operatic 'Climb Ev'ry Mountain' will bring tears to your eyes." - Dean Richards, WGN-TV

Elizabeth Futral "moved with the studied grace of one who is accustomed to having all eyes on her in the room.…This soprano is also a bitingly clever actor, one who knows how to fling a casual aside to the back of the house." - Nancy Malitz, Chicago on the Aisle

Edward Hibbert "is superb as character man/comic relief/realist/impresario Max Detweiler, showing he is a true pro in every sense of the word." - Paul W. Thompson, Broadway World

"Betsy Farrar is a lovely, believable Liesl … 'Sixteen Going on Seventeen' [is] beautifully sung and danced with a charming Zach Sorrow as Rolf, thankfully avoiding the angry young man syndrome found in most portrayals" - Colin Douglas, Chicago Theatre Review

The beautiful music

"…Richard Rodgers himself couldn't imagine a more ideal way of hearing his score…" - Kris Vire, Time Out Chicago

"The Lyric Orchestra, under the masterful conductor Rob Fisher, does justice to Richard Rodgers fabulous score." - Tom Williams, Chicago Critic

"…probably the best chorus of Nonnberg nuns the world has ever heard" - Paul W. Thompson, Broadway World

Don't miss it!

"The sound of perfection...best stage show we've had in Chicago in years." - Dean Richards, WGN-TV

"In the Lyric Opera’s capable hands, The Sound of Music has retained its appeal for audiences of all ages. The hills are alive, indeed." - Elizabeth Diffin, Chicago Parent 

"…fans of the film and stage show—especially those introducing their children to it—will find it faithful, beautiful, and bigger than they're ever likely to see it again." - Deanna Isaacs, Chicago Reader

"Who knew that the Lyric would do more than just revive the musical but give it the definitive production that the stage show has always deserved." - Michael J. Roberts, Showbiz Chicago

 "This production is absolutely wonderful." - Andrew Patner, WFMT

Photo credit: 

  • Maria and the von Trapp children perform "The Lonely Goatherd" in The Sound of Music. Top row: Isabelle Roberts, Julia Schweizer, Brady Tutton. Middle row: KyLee Hennes, Jenn Gambatese, Nicole Scimeca. Bottom: Michael Harp. (credit Todd Rosenberg / Lyric Opera of Chicago)

 

The Buzz is Building for THE SOUND OF MUSIC

Lyric's new production of The Sound of Music opens on April 25, and the excitement around Chicago is reaching a fever pitch. The wonderful cast and crew of the show have been spotted all around town. Check out some highlights of the great media coverage so far. 

Lyric's new production of The Sound of Music opens on April 25, and the excitement around Chicago is reaching a fever pitch. The wonderful cast and crew of the show—Billy Zane, Jenn Gambatese, Christine Brewer, Edward Hibbert, Marc Bruni, and those delightful von Trapp children—have been spotted all around town. Even the Chicago Bulls All-Star Center Joakim Noah is in on the action!

Sports Illustrated 

Joakim Noah dropped by the Civic Opera House for a Sports Illustrated photo shoot and a quick visit to the von Trapp children's rehearsal for The Sound of Music. Lee Jenkins reports in the magazine's April 21 issue>>

Billy Zane on WGN Morning News

 

Jenn Gambatese on Windy City Live 

;

Marc Bruni on Chicago Sun-Times "Curtain Call"

 

Christine Brewer and Edward Hibbert on Chicago Tonight

 

 WCIU's You & Me This Morning

And here's a sampling of the  many print interviews about the show

Need more inside info? Check out our Insider's Guide to The Sound of Music !

“Listen to your friend Billy Zane, he’s a cool dude.”

Billy Zane, star of Lyric's new production of The Sound of Music has appeared in more than 100 films. Here are some highlights from his incredibly versatile career.

To appropriate a line from Zoolander, Chicago's own Billy Zane—starring as Captain von Trapp in Lyric's production of The Sound of Music  opening on April 25—is an exceptionally cool dude who has appeared in more than 100 films.

Here are just a few of our favorite moments of Zane from his large and versatile filmography.  

Titanic 

The epic blockbuster by James Cameron featured Zane as Cal Hockley, the obstacle standing in the way of Jack and Rose and true love. He was the perfect villain, equal parts devious and debonair—it was hard not to get caught up in his spell. 

 

Back to the Future 

In his film debut, Billy Zane played Match, one of Biff's three menacing henchman who are constantly bullying George and Marty McFly (Crispin Glover and Michael J. Fox). 

 

Zoolander 

This movie is one masterful comic set piece after another, but Billy Zane's priceless cameo backing up Derek Zoolander (Ben Stiller) as he argues with Hansel (Owen Wilson) might be the movie's best moment. "It's a walk-off."

 

Dead Calm 

In his breakthrough role, Zane plays the psychotic Hughie, a stowaway who terrorizes a married couple (played by Nicole Kidman and Sam Neill) on the open water in this taught thriller from Australian director Phillip Noyce. You'll never think of "The Lion Sleeps Tonight" in the same way again.

 

The Phantom 

This big-screen adaptation of Lee Falk's adventure comic featured Billy Zane as the eponymous hero in the purple suit. The role showcased both Zane's enviable physique and his natural comic timing, and the actor has said it was this movie that brought him to Titanic director James Cameron's attention.

 

Twin Peaks 

Zane had a recurring role as businessman John Justice Wheeler in season 2 of this groundbreaking David Lynch series. In one of the more lighthearted subplots on the show, his character romances Audrey Horne (Sherilyn Fenn) and tries to teach her father Ben (Richard Beymer) how to be truly good. 

 

 

Photo credits (clockwise from top left): Billy Zane in The Phantom (courtesy Paramount Pictures); Back to the Future (courtesy Universal Pictures); Ben Stiller and Billy Zane in Zoolander (courtesy Paramount Pictures); Billy Zane in Dead Calm (courtesy Warner Bros.)

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

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