New Sound of Music show one of Debbie’s favourite things!
- Credit: Archant
A new stage production of The Sound of Music in Bury St Edmunds has been given the seal of approval - by Debbie Turner, one of the child stars of the smash hit film and who was in the audience.
Debbie Turner who played Marta von Trapp alongside Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer, was at the Theatre Royal for the performance by Bury St Edmunds Amateur Operatic and Dramatic Society.
Debbie, who lives in America, was in the UK visiting her daughter Jaime, who lives in Suffolk and has friends involved in the much-loved story about the singing von Trapp family in pre-war Nazi Austria.
She was there on Wednesday May 1 and met the cast, including the two children playing her character - Oonagh Cantillon and Eleni South.
Debbie said: “It was fantastic, I really enjoyed a thoroughly impressive show from beginning to end and which had some real stand out performances. I would urge anyone to go and see it.”
Production director Alec Taylor said meeting Debbie had proved a real boost for the cast.
“You could tell there was a lot of energy on stage, particularly with the children, and they got that from meeting a star of the film,” he said.
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“Actually meeting someone who has been there and done it and been seen by millions of people around the world really geed them up.”
The show is using two sets of actors for the von Trapp children and Debbie said she had enjoyed talking to them about her memories of making the film in Austria and Bavaria as a seven-year-old child actress from California.
“They asked all kinds of questions about how the film was made, including the scene where Maria and the children fall in a lake,” she said.
“The lake was awful – and cold! Robert Wise, the director, was such a perfectionist. He wanted to be sure that he got every angle that he wanted so he had us do it a second time.
“The first time we went in the water we fell forward. The second time Julie Andrews fell backwards off the back of the boat and of course, he used that clip.
“But Gretl – Kym Karath – was only five and she couldn’t swim, so she was scooped up by one of the assistant directors from the bottom of the lake, although it was only four feet deep.”
Debbie has happy memories of working with Julie Andrews, who plays the heroine Maria.
“Julie Andrews was wonderful, what she would do with us when we weren’t filming,” she said.
“She would pull us aside, pick up the guitar and she would sing to us and tell us jokes. She was pretty much our governess on and off camera.
“Christopher Plummer, on the other hand, was very stoic towards us, kind of to instil that bit of fear that his character portrayed.
“He wanted to stay in character so he would have that edge towards us and we would be more respectful of him.”
Debbie left acting to concentrate on her studies and is now a successful floral designer in America, but despite the passage of time she remembers a great deal of making the film thanks to “a good photographic memory” and lots of photographs taken on set by her parents.
She also remains friends with her fellow cast members: “There are always reunions of the cast, so we can’t really forget. We’re still close; I was talking to Angel Cartwright (Brigitta von Trapp) only the other day.”
First performed in London’s West End in 1961, the score to The Sound of Music was the last to be written by Rodgers and Hammerstein.
It was then adapted for the big screen - and The Sound of Music remains one of the most popular and successful musical films of all time, thanks to songs such as Edelweiss, The Sound of Music, My Favourite Things and Do-Re-Me.
Debbie also puts its success down to a number of other factors.
“That it is still popular today doesn’t surprise me,” she said.
“It’s a mostly true story and it’s a lovely story. It’s got all the things you need – it’s got humour, it’s got suspense, scary Nazis and bad things. It’s got all the things that make for a good film.”
The pictures taken behind the scenes on The Sound of Music set can be seen on Debbie’s website.
The Sound of Music runs at the Theatre Royal until Saturday 11 May. There are no performances on Sundays and Mondays, and tickets are limited on Saturday 4 May and Saturday 11 May.
Ticket prices start from £10.50 and are available from the theatre website or by contacting the box office on 01284 769505.