By Salomon Maya
Andy Einhorn grew up in Houston, Texas, loving music, performing in shows as a child actor and then working professionally in Houston theater. He played piano, but preferred Mozart and Beethoven in the style of Jerry Harmon or Richard Rogers, as he says, “just because.”
As music supervisor for The Sound of Music, coming to Broadway San Diego November 15-20, he brings his love of music and theater together once again to a reimagining of an American classic.
“In this instance, we had the blessing of the Rogers and Hammerstein organization to sort of create our own version of The Sound of Music, so not saying you’ll suddenly find fifteen songs that nobody has ever heard before but we’ve created an all new production with new transition music and we have a new dance break for ‘Sixteen Going on Seventeen,’” Einhorn said. “We had everything from the movie to the original Broadway production to various other productions at our disposal. It was a really nice rehearsal process where we could end up with creating a hybrid version, as it were, for audiences today to come in and be reintroduced to this classic musical we all know and love so much.”
L’CHAIM: What are some other differences from this production to the classic?
ANDY EINHORN: The stage version is very different than the film that we all know and love. So, that sometimes is a shock to people who come to see it and recognize that “My Favorite Things” doesn’t take place in the bedroom when the kids are scared from the thunderstorm, it’s a story between mother Abbess and Maria connecting on a very deeply personal level. And then you have this secondary story of Max and Elsa and Captain and everything political and social going on during the times so the stage piece is a bit richer in terms of the socio-political climate of 1939 in Austria, which the movie tends to gloss over a bit because it was Hollywood at a time when it wasn’t exactly popular to be showing Nazis on screen.
We’ve gone back to original text to take the classic and remind people why the story is so powerful, why the music is so powerful, because we can all connect to the love story of Maria and the Captain but we can also understand the triumph of love over deeply political and socially charged themes in the show.
What the director, Jack O’Brien has done so beautifully is he’s dusted off the gloss of the piece and has made the piece feel incredibly powerful and resonant. I’ve had many people say to me “oh I know The Sound of Music, I don’t need to go see it again” and I say “No, no go see it” and then they come out and say “wow, that was actually a deeply moving piece.” I think for so many years we just imagined Julie Andrews twirling all over the Alps. Inside of here you have a very powerful story.
L’CHAIM: Did you make the music your own? Is there new music, new instruments, and new rhythm?
AE: Pretty much every transition you’re hearing has been created specifically just for this production.
Jack said to me, “Well, the set is doing this and we want to propel from this scene to the next scene, and show this beat into the next scene so what’s the best way we can do this?” Sometimes it’s taking four bars of My Favorite Things and then going into a very soaring theme of The Hills are Alive with The Sound of Music. It’s exploring how to move the show forward [musically], the storytelling is in correlation with the music.
The really important thing is we really went back to the text, to make sure the actors are being very clear about the lyrics that they’re singing because what starts to happen with shows you know so well is the minute somebody starts singing Raindrops on Roses, Whiskers on Kittens, subliminally you go into your subconscious and sing along with it but our job here was to actually say, “No, we’re going to remind you why this song is really special at this exact moment in the show so you start to listen to the song again,” rather than revert back to the way you know it in your head.
L’CHAIM: Is this version of the production considered a revival?
AE: It’s a revival in the best sense of the word in terms of reviving what is so special about the show and bringing back a real power and emotion to the story.
L’CHAIM: What are your thoughts regarding the Jewish themes in the show?
AE: There is a deep question of faith in the show because a lot of it set in the Abbey and the women caught between religion versus love. I think that’s very interesting hearing that discussion right now in terms of living in a world where people are trying to get as much as they can [out of life], so, I think we are over stimulated in a lot of ways.
There’s a deep faith in this piece that applies to anybody of any religion who can understand the power of the belief of a higher being, as well as understanding the power of love.
With the Nazi element, it’s always present. It’s important to be reminded that there was a time in the world where we had so much hate and such prejudice towards one group of people, so, as a Jew, [the piece] speaks to me a lot in terms of when we were putting the show up. I just always have these moments toward the end of the show when the family is discovered hiding in the Abbey and I’m continuously choked up because it reminds me that there was a time when we weren’t able to live so freely.
It’s a celebration of how far we’ve come in terms of acceptance of other religions, too. We still have a way to go, our country is still deeply in political turmoil but there’s nothing like watching the celebration of these people trumped over – pun intended. It’s watching the celebration of the human spirit over evil and that’s at the core of this piece, watching people triumph and that’s what we can walk away from this show and celebrate it. We can continuously push our society forward and also allow us to never forget what actually happened in history.
The Sound of Music runs November 15-20. Tickets are available at broadwaysd.com.