Allison Spratt Pearce Talks ’Sound of Music’
It made Julie Andrews a household name and is arguably THE American musical family-favorite, second only to "The Wizard of Oz." Every iconic song is well-known, loved and adored. So please gather ’round as we at The Rage Monthly call for a moment of silence in a little tribute to the theatre gods, for the genius of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s work. We praise and reflect on their final collaboration - "The Sound of Music!"
Did you know Rodgers and Hammerstein wrote a few other fabulous tunes for the original stage version? Most of us don’t, but according to San Diego Musical Theatre (the company bringing "The Sound of Music" back to the stage) we will get to hear them and see more in-depth character development for people like Uncle Max and Baroness Schraeder.
I can’t wait to see it live to catch all those subtle nuances; see it the way genius intended. And although we can’t have Julie Andrews, I’ll place my bets on Allison Spratt Pearce as Maria. She’s definitely high-spirited, gracious and loves all of "the children."
Pearce is just finishing up a production of Shakespeare’s "Twelfth Night" at The Old Globe, a compact educational version with six actors doubling up on parts. When asked about her thoughts on playing Maria, Pearce says, "Rodgers and Hammerstein wrote a role that is extremely complex and challenging - one that as I try to sink in to it, really grinds my teeth. When I first read the script I loved it even more. There is this grit and reality that is not in the movie. In the pre-World War II moment, the stakes are a lot higher. There are some wonderful elements of surprise that allow for the audience to feel even more empathy."
Nationally known Director/Choreographer Todd Nielsen is working closely with the cast. Pearce notes, "Todd is helping us to see so much more than what we think we know already. I am discovering new things about this show every day. He is instrumental in making that happen, getting us to look at the reality of historical events." Nielsen has teamed up with local favorite Music Director/Conductor Don LeMaster.
Pearce, who grew up a military brat with her dad in the service and her mom working for the Red Cross, caught the theatre bug from her auntie who was a Broadway dancer. "She was a huge influence on me, a teacher to me. She brought me into the Broadway community." In Pearce’s very first professional show, "Alice in Wonderland," she was cast as Alice. "I’ve been doing theatre since I could walk; my birth announcement [no joke] was a stage ticket. Thanks to my family it is kind of all I have ever done other than teaching," says Pearce.
The teacher in Pearce enjoys being part of a show with young children and she can’t wait to see kids in the audience watching the show. "Their emotions are so raw and wide-eyed, it’s like Christmas. None of the facial expressions are planned or judged, it’s all just immediate reactions. It’s fun to see theatre through the eyes of kids."
The Von Trapp children, Pearce says, "are age appropriate and so professional. They’re all San Diego locals. I worked with most of them in The Old Globe’s ’How the Grinch Stole Christmas’ this past year. This is a three-hour show and it involves a lot of focus, the kids do a ton."
When asked about yodeling for the song "The Lonely Goatherd," Pearce laughed, "Oh my goodness, well I am learning. What’s funny is my extended family, 16 of us, took a trip to Austria. So of course we took The Sound of Music Tour. We heard all about yodeling, it’s like choir to them. It is definitely a gorgeous art form. I guess you’ll know if I mastered it in a couple of weeks. See the show; you can tell me if I can yodel."
"The Sound of Music" is playing at the Birch North Park Theatre from Friday, May 10 through Sunday, May 26. For tickets and more information call 858.560.5740 or go to sdmt.org