Agathe Johanna Erwina Gobertina von Trapp (12 March 1913 – 28 December 2010) was the eldest daughter of Georg von Trapp and Agathe Whitehead. She was a member of the Trapp Family Singers, whose lives were the inspiration for the play and film The Sound of Music. She was portrayed as the character of "Liesl". She died on the 28 of December 2010 at Gilchrist Hospice Care in Towson, Maryland.
The final collaboration between composer Richard Rodgers and lyricist Oscar Hammerstein II who passed away nine months after the opening, The Sound of Music is based on Maria Von Trapp's autobiography; “The Story of the Trapp Family Singers”. Originally, the musical was to contain only actual music that had been sung by the Trapps in their concerts, plus one original song by Rodgers and Hammerstein. The talented songwriting duo balked at this, however, and eventually they were allowed to contribute the entire score. Many songs from the musical have become standards, including the title song "The Sound of Music", "Edelweiss", "My Favorite Things", "Climb Every Mountain" and "Do-Re-Mi".
Set in 1938, The Sound of Music tells the story of Maria Rainer, a free-spirited nun who is hired by Captain Georg Von Trapp to care for his seven children. Although Captain Trapp is engaged to a wealthy socialite, he and Maria eventually fall in love and marry--but their happiness is soon shattered when the Nazis invade Austria.
The Sound of Music opened at the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre on November 16 1959, moved to the Mark Hellinger Theatre on November 6, 1962 and closed on June 15, 1963 after 1,443 performances. The director was Vincent J. Donehue, and the choreographer was Joe Layton. The Sound of Music proved to be the world’s most beloved musical and eventually the second longest running Broadway musical of the Fifties. The original production featured Mary Martin and Theodore Bikel.
Martha Wright replaced Martin in the role of Maria on Broadway in October 1961, followed by Karen Gantz in July 1962 and Nancy Dussault in September 1962. Jon Voight, who eventually married co-star Lauri Peters, was a replacement for Rolf. The national tour starred Florence Henderson and opened at the Riviera Theatre, Detroit, on February 27, 1961 and closed November 23, 1963 at the O'Keefe Center, Toronto. Henderson was succeeded by Barbara Meister in June 1962. Theodore Bikel was not satisfied playing the role of the Captain, because of the role's limited singing, and Bikel did not like to play the same role over and over again. In his autobiography, he writes: "I promised myself then that if I could afford it, I would never do a run as long as that again."
The musical premiered in London's West End at the Palace Theatre on May 18, 1961, and ran for 2,385 performances. It was directed by Jerome Whyte and used the original New York choreography, supervised by Joe Layton, and the original sets designed by Oliver Smith. The cast included Jean Bayliss as Maria, followed by Sonia Rees, Roger Dann as Captain von Trapp, Constance Shacklock as Mother Abbess, Eunice Gayson as Elsa Schraeder, Harold Kasket as Max Detweiler, Barbara Brown as Liesl, Nicholas Bennett as Rolf and Olive Gilbert as Sister Margaretta.
In 1981, at producer Ross Taylor's urging, Petula Clark agreed to star in a revival of the show at the Apollo Victoria Theatre in London's West End. Michael Jayston played Captain von Trapp, Honor Blackman was the Baroness and June Bronhill the Mother Abbess. Despite Clark's misgivings that, at age 49, she w as too old to play the role convincingly, Clark opened to unanimous rave reviews (and the largest advance sale in the history of British theatre at that time). Maria von Trapp herself, present at the opening night performance, described Clark as "the best" Maria ever. Clark extended her initial six-month contract to thirteen months. Playing to 101 percent of seating capacity, the show set the highest attendance figure for a single week (October 26–31, 1981) of any British musical production in history (as recorded in The Guinness Book of Theatre). This was the first stage production to incorporate the two additional songs ("Something Good" and "I Have Confidence") that Richard Rodgers composed for the film version.
In 1998, director Susan H. Schulman staged the first Broadway revival of The Sound of Music, with Rebecca Luker as Maria and Michael Siberry as Captain von Trapp. It also featured Patti Cohenour as Mother Abbess, Jan Maxwell as Elsa Schraeder, Fred Applegate as Max Detweiler, Dashiell Eaves as Rolf, Patricia Conolly as Frau Schmidt and Laura Benanti, in her Broadway debut, as Luker's understudy. Later, Luker and Siberry were replaced by Richard Chamberlain as the Captain and Benanti as Maria. Lou Taylor Pucci made his Broadway debut as the understudy for Kurt von Trapp. This revival opened on March 12, 1998, at the Martin Beck Theatre, where it ran for 15 months. It then went on tour in North America. This production was nominated for a Tony Award for Best Revival of a Musical.
An Andrew Lloyd Webber production opened on November 15, 2006, at the London Palladium and ran until February 2009, produced by Live Nation's David Ian and Jeremy Sams. Following failed negotiations with Hollywood star Scarlett Johansson, the role of Maria was cast through a UK talent search reality TV show called How Do You Solve A Problem Like Maria? The talent show was produced by Andrew Lloyd Webber and featured presenter and comedian Graham Norton and a judging panel of David Ian, John Barrowman and Zoe Tyler.
Connie Fisher was selected by public voting as the winner of the show. In early 2007, Fisher suffered from a heavy cold that prevented her from performing for two weeks. To prevent further disruptions, an alternate Maria, Aoife Mulholland, a fellow contestant on How Do You Solve A Problem Like Maria? played Maria on Monday evenings and Wednesday matinee performances. Simon Shepherd was originally cast as Captain von Trapp, but after two preview performances he was withdrawn from the production, and Alexander Hanson moved into the role in time for the official opening date along with Lesley Garrett as the Mother Abbess. After Garrett left, Margaret Preece took the role. The cast also featured Lauren Ward as the Baroness, Ian Gelber as Max, Sophie Bould as Liesl, and Neil McDermott as Rolf. The revival received enthusiastic reviews, especially for other new actors such as Fisher, Preece, Bould and Garrett. The production closed on February 21, 2009 after a run of over two years.
Monday, November 16, 2009 marked the 50th Anniversary of the Broadway premiere for the most beloved musical of all time, THE SOUND OF MUSIC.