'The Sound of Music' production in the Negev

Still one of the ‘favorite things’

The Negev’s LOGON presents ‘The Sound of Music’ (photo credit: Courtesy)
The Negev’s LOGON presents ‘The Sound of Music’
(photo credit: Courtesy)
How do you teach Israeli kids how to yodel? (Lay-ee-odl-lay-ee-odl-lay-hee-hoo. OK, enough of that.) The young performers appearing in the Light Opera Group of the Negev’s (LOGON) production of the classic Broadway musical The Sound of Music have managed to master the technique.

Many songs from the Rodgers and Hammerstein show, one the world’s most beloved musicals, have become standards: “Edelweiss,” “Climb Every Mountain,” “Do-Re-Mi,” “Favorite Things” and the title song “The Sound of Music.”
To perform “The Lonely Goatherd” the youngsters playing the von Trapp children, as well as the actress playing Maria, had to learn how to yodel. 

“You have to forget everything you ever learned about connecting the notes in singing and force yourself to jump the break in your upper and lower vocal range,” explained Kristina Hawthorne, LOGON’s vocal coach, adding that Julie Andrews, who created the movie role of Maria, never learned to yodel.

The show is based on the story of the singing von Trapp family of Austria. The play is set in 1938, just before – and after – the Anschluss, when Nazi Germany annexed Austria. Maria, a postulant at a nearby abbey, is sent to work as a governess to a large family while she decides whether to become a nun. She falls in love with the seven children, and eventually their widowed father, naval commander Georg von Trapp. He is ordered to accept a commission in the German Navy, but he opposes the Nazis. He and Maria, now married, decide on a plan to flee Austria with the children. (“So Long, Farewell, Auf Wiedersehen, Goodbye... ”)

The story is a true one – up to a point – based on Maria von Trapp’s book The Story of the Trapp Family Singers. The family eventually settled in the United States, becoming, with three more children, a popular singing act. The original Broadway production opened in 1959 starring Mary Martin and Theodore Bikel.

Israel’s veteran English-language theater group, whose acronym LOGON far predates the Internet age, was founded in 1981 in Omer near Beersheba. The group draws participants from the South of the country. For its first 14 years, LOGON performed only Gilbert and Sullivan operettas, but deciding it had exhausted the G&S repertoire, began staging Broadway musicals. The group has been mounting annual full-scale productions around the country for more than 20 years. This will the first time it is producing The Sound of Music.

The play is a familiar show in Israel, and there have been several Hebrew-language productions over the years. LOGON’s long-time stage director Yaacov Amsellem said, “It’s not obvious that this would be such a sweet story, the music so melodic, even pastoral. It could have been much more aggressive. After all, these were people being pursued by the Nazis.”

Amsellem believes LOGON’s production will have a fresh look. “We’re presenting the humanity of the characters that are more three-dimensional than the stereotypes sometimes portrayed,” he said.

“For people who know The Sound of Music only from the movie, some things in the show may be a bit surprising,” said Hawthorne, “since the plot of the stage version is a bit different and some of the songs are in different scenes.”

Kristina’s daughter Abigail (13) plays one of the von Trapp children in the Sound of Music, her second LOGON show. Two years ago she played Annie in LOGON’s production of Annie.

Actually, LOGON has always been something of a family affair throughout its 39-year history. Every year children, and even grandchildren, of veteran performers and directors take part in productions. This year representatives of three sets of three-generation “LOGONites” are performing.

The Mother Abbess is played by Tamar Naggan, whose mother Nancy was one of the original five founders of  LOGON . Tamar’s son Gidi (15) daughter Ayelet (13) also appear, and her sister Laora, who’s played many roles over the years, is stage manager in The Sound of  Music.

Nine-year old Noga Kar, who plays Gretl, the youngest von Trapp child, is the daughter of Maayan Leeper-Kar who has appeared in many LOGON shows over the years, as has her brother, Shalev. Maayan’s mother, Razelle, is director’s assistant and acting coach, and her father, Aaron, has also appeared in several shows.

Alternating the role of Gretl is nine-year-old Shoeva Margalit-Stein, the daughter of choreographer Keshet Margalit-Stein. This is Keshet’s 11th LOGON production. Her mother, Adinah Margalit, choreographed several of the group’s early shows.

Shows begin February 27 and run throughout March. LOGON will be performing The Sound of Music in Beersheba, Eshkol, Givatayim, Netanya, Modi’in, Ness Ziona, Jerusalem and Ra’anana. Performances are in English with Hebrew subtitles. Tickets available at negevlightopera.com, eventbuzz.co.il or by calling 08-641-4081.