Production team goes back to stage one to unfold a new "Sound of Music"
A lot of people know The Sound of Music. All of us who grew up with this musical might think it's a less challenging piece to restage. Think again.
To incorporate Southeast Asia's largest LED wall, use a giant stage, add revolving stairs, and insert an entire song sequence other productions didn’t dare to include, this version of The Sound of Music sent the whole production team back to the drawing board. If it's going to be staged in the Newport Performing Arts Theater, there's a dire need for ingenuity.
So they did. Eight artists who are each decorated on their areas of expertise will be transforming a black and white Sound of Music into a chromatic presentation that will push the Rodgers and Hammerstein original to places it has not reached yet. “We hope to present an old play that has been presented over and over again, but with newness about it –this time, you won’t see drawings in the background. You’re going to see video. It’s going to move”, the show’s director Roxanne Lapus said.
As the show’s main woman, what Roxanne first did was select people who shall transform her visions of a fresh Sound of Music to reality. Her dream team consists of Maestro Rodel Colmenar as the Musical Director with the Manila Philharmonic Orchestra, Lynn Fabella as the Voice Coach and Terri Aldeguer as the choregrapher. Matching the music with visuals are Mio Infante as the Production Designer, Martin Esteva as the Lighting Director, Francis Libiran as the Costume Designer and Paul Soriano as the Video Director.
The Sound of Music production team, clockwise from top: Roxanne Lapus (Director), Rodel Colmenar
(Musical Director), Lynn Fabella (Voice Coach), Terri Aldeguer (Choreographer), Paul Soriano (Video Director),
Martin Esteva (Lighting Director), Mio Infante (Production Designer), Francis Libiran (Costume Designer)
With almost 50 shows, 6 times a week in 2 months, Rodel Colmenar found a more efficient way for the Manila Philharmonic Orchestra to render the timeless symphony of the Sound of Music tirelessly. “We are skipping more than 10 traditional musical instruments and put all these sounds together that 3 keyboard players can produce. But even if we do this, we can give the magic a complete 60-piece orchestra can bring”, he assures. Colmenar’s contribution on producing a fresher take on The Sound of Music is changing the tempo of the play’s well-loved songs to make “faster scenes more exciting and dramatic scenes more subtle”, he shared.
Also challenged is vocal coach Lynn Fabella. The musical already boasts a world-class casts who as Fabella shared, “are already outstanding on their craft”. “I asked myself what I can contribute to this people because they are already very outstanding on what they do. I am just proud I was given the chance to screen this exemplary cast”, she narrated. She added that her main role now is to guide the actors to sound differently from each other even if they portray the same characters. For the lead roles, there will be 2 Marias, 3 Captain Georg von Trapps and 3 sets of von Trapp kids alternating each other. “I always asked them to approach their roles in a way that would reflect their differences. Each of them has their own life experiences and these should help them interpret the roles differently”, Fabella pointed out.
“Because the musical is so popular,
the choreography might end up too rehearsed
and I don’t want that. This will be a different Sound of Music-
most of the dance steps are faithful to the original,
but this needs to be more emotional”
-Terri Aldeguer, Choreographer
Choreographer Terri Aldeguer of the Aldeguer Sisters, for her part, wanted to make the dance sequences as natural as it can be. “Because the musical is so popular, the choreography might end up too rehearsed and I don’t want that. This will be a different Sound of Music- most of the dance steps are faithful to the original, but this needs to be more emotional”, Terri enthused. She shared that most of her reinventions would come from the dance sequences in the song “Sixteen Going on Seventeen”.
Setting aside the classical feel and making it contemporary through the physical set is production designer Mio Infante’s contribution to the transformation of The Sound of Music. “We went for the more cartoonish look, a shy away from being realistic to make it friendlier”, he said. Aside from this retake of a World War-inspired set design, Mio biggest challenge is the size of the theater. “It is so huge! We need to put a lot of things on the background to make it more proportioned. We have kids who must be seen. With so many items we need to put there, this has to be the most grandiose Sound of Music set”, Infante shared.
Collaborating with the physical set and filling in the images for Southeast Asia largest LED wall is video director Paul Soriano. “It will be awesome to see fast changing backgrounds. As Maria sings ‘the hills are alive’, the sceneries behind her will also travel”, Soriano said. Using video walls for musicals is something new and this in itself makes this production of The Sound of Music groundbreaking. “We will bring the abbey to you, the Alps to you, and the forest as it was never done before”, the renowned video director added.
“Creating wedding gowns is my forte.
You need to watch out for that wedding scene”
-Costume Designer Francis Libiran on designing Maria’s wedding dress
As with Newport Performing Arts Theater’s advanced lighting technology, lighting director Martin Esteva also needs to cope up with the vast changes done in the musical’s set design and video background. “Because of the huge LED wall, the lights have to be very strong for it to be very effective. When the LED projects the hills, you need to match the changes of the shadows in the whole stage for the whole scene to be real”, Esteva shared. He also divulged that this production will be a sampler of the use of digitally automated lighting here in the country.
Completing the visual spectacle are Francis Libiran’s costumes. The “designer to the stars” revealed that this is his first time to design clothes for a stage play as he is used to individual clients. Francis designed and produced close to 200 outfits, creating 5 sets per actor and completed those in 2 months. “We need to consider the fast changes. For example, I am using magnetic buttons instead of the traditional zipper”, he accounts. As Maria’s postulant costume is something Francis can’t change so not to destroy the story and the mood of the play, his artistry was more obvious on Maria’s wedding gown. “Creating wedding gowns is my forte. You need to watch out for that wedding scene”, he said.
As the rehearsals are about to wrap up and the production team almost accomplished their tasks at hand, the judgment is now being passed on to the audience if going back to stage one was all worth it. Be delighted as curtains open for The Sound of Music on October 15.
Images are provided by Ultimate Entertainment Inc.