Los Angeles Event Review: SING-A-LONG SOUND OF MUSIC (Hollywood Bowl)

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by Tony Frankel on June 27, 2017

in Film,Theater-Los Angeles


What do you get when you cross one of the most popular movies of all time with 17,000 Angelenos dressed up as nuns, telegram delivery boys, cuckoo clocks, and brown paper packages tied up with string–all of whom set off party poppers, wave fake edelweiss, and sing along with a joyous, hopeful community spirit rivaled by none? One of the most enjoyable nights of the year. Combine all the awesomeness of karaoke, movie theater, and costume party, and it’s no wonder that throngs of people brave traffic and return year after year to the Hollywood Bowl to see a 52-year-old film that, in all likelihood, they have seen dozens if not hundreds of times.

I grew up on The Sound of Music, so the images are etched into my brain and I know every song by heart (even harmonies), but there are lyrics on the screen for those who are not as familiar with the songs. You also get a goody fun-bag of, well, goodies that you can use throughout the movie (although it was tough trying to flip tiny printed cards–one with a question mark–during “How do you solve a problem like Maria?”).

It all started at 6:30, which means the evening lasted 5 hours, so don’t tell me Americans don’t have an attention span over 60 minutes. Dressing up is optional, but a coterie of characters were part of a pre-show dress parade hosted by Melissa Peterman, the actress and comedian who played Barbra Jean on TV’s Reba. Really, I tried to be an eye-rolling cynic, but all of those girls in white dresses with blue satin sashes flashed on the Bowl’s giant LED screens positively melted my heart. It was at this time that Peterman gave instructions for responding to certain characters: Elsa the Baroness gets hisses, Gretl gets “Awwwws,” and Rolf, the adorable telegram boy, gets both boos and barks (mine actually came out as a resounding “Woof!”).

I can’t say it’s encouraged, but patrons certainly offered G-rated commentary every now and then. When Maria first espies the estate she’s been assigned to, and says, “Oh, help,” someone near me screamed, “You got this, girl!” Since part of the movie’s appeal lies in its “can-do” spirit, I found this comment uplifting. Interestingly enough, as the movie progressed after intermission, patrons became quieter, as if any interjections would cause the fleeing family to be found out by the Nazis. Indeed, red laser pointers–originally good for a laugh when they hit the Gauleiter’s face for the first time–became annoying.

Unlike the pre-show, only one screen was utilized for the film, and it splayed across the entire stage with the most magnificent sound I have ever heard at any of my, I don’t know, 3,846 viewings. And nothing can top an entire Bowl gently singing “Edelweiss” with phone flashlights waving like a wink of fireflies. I thought it would sound corny to say this, but the Sing-a-long Sound of Music has immediately become one of my favorite things.

video courtesy of LA Phil/Hollywood Bowl

Sing-A-Long Sound of Music
Hollywood Bowl
played July 24, 2017
for future Hollywood Bowl shows, visit Hollywood Bowl

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