People who meet the von Trapps via The Sound of Music may be surprised that the repertoire of the real-life Trapp Family Singers was unlike the jolly musical theater songs that Rodgers & Hammerstein created. The real von Trapps sang mostly art music—madrigals, religious pieces and classically-arranged folk music. In a 1998 interview, one of Georg and Maria’s sons said, “We were about good taste, culture, and all those wonderful upperclass standards that people make fun of in movies.”
The Sound of Music is iconic. It is without a doubt one of the most beloved and well known musicals. For over 50 years it has enthralled audiences across generations, cultures, and borders, from Europe to Asia, South America to Africa—a global fascination that stands as a testament to its universal appeal. Certainly, the amazing score and the heartwarming story are important reasons audiences flock to it. However, one key to its enduring appeal for contemporary audiences lies in its gallery of brave, strong, self-directed women: Maria—rebellious, independent, and adventurous; The Mother Abbess—wise, intuitive, and the moral compass, and Elsa, the Baroness—accomplished, driven, sophisticated, and intelligent.
Everyone enjoys a good love story told well and on this alone, Waterfall delivers. But beyond its captivating story of forbidden love, Waterfall possesses a socially conscious essence as it moves from Bangkok to Tokyo in the 1930s, exploring issues of culture and identity, race, globalization, immigration and the eternal tug of war between tradition and modernity. These themes not only capture the tensions of the times, but seem quite familiar and relevant to the present.