The Sound of Music (joy) came to Blackstone this weekend and a thousand people wiped their eyes in three shows at the Middle School auditorium where the Broadway style sets and local actors gave life to a story of transformation and redemption that occurred to an Austrian family in Hitler’s Europe.
While we all know the play through the movie with Julie Andrews and have heard the music that has now become part of our culture’s heart song—who doesn’t spontaneously start singing the “hills are alive with the sound of music” when life suddenly begins to leap with joy—I was powerfully pierced by the depth of this story, having enjoyed watching two performances this weekend, and now I feel like a bursting grape ready to share the wine of this communion.
The play has three levels where the conflicts between the stifling discipline of the mind (ideology) and freedom of the heart (love, music) work their way to resolution and liberation. First you have the oppressive rituals and rules of the abbey (religion), then you have the no-fun dictatorship of the strict father, and finally on the social level, the suffocation of liberty by fascism. Maria (the feminine principle of the heart) pierced each one of these levels like a moonbeam through the dark. She melts the first two levels and escapes the third. This is the perennial formula of the teachings of Jesus and the elemental recipe for joy in this life. We must let go of the fearful mind’s dominion and release our heart to the moment.
But this play was more than a wet Kleenex. Both actors who play Maria and the Captain felt the power of this music. Christy Aviles, who played Maria had been performing on Broadway when the planes hit the towers. She and her husband left NYC in search of in search of a new life. By coincidence and perhaps design they ended up in a house in Blackstone, and finally the leading role in this play, where like Maria she used the sound of music to find the song in her heart once more.
And the actor, Denis McCarthy, who played the heart-dead Captain Von Trapp, discovered that he could dance, be romantic, and authoritative all in the same body. Passion—although just for the play—could be felt throughout the theater.
And my wife, Tilly, who has been dreaming and working, often in vain, for a renaissance of the theater arts here in Blackstone ever since she returned to her home town in 1981, cried on stage when the cast showered her with flowers and applause for the stunning job she did not only directing but building the sets as well. “This is a fulfillment of all my dreams,” she said between dabs of wet Kleenex.
Posted under current events
This post was written by ed on November 17, 2008