`Sound of Music' Wins New Fans

Captivating revival of 1959 musical hit stars Debbie Boone. THEATER: REVIEW

THE SOUND OF MUSIC Musical with music by Richard Rodgers, lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II. Book by Howard Lindsay and Russel Crouse. Directed by James Hammerstein. Starring Debby Boone. At Lincoln Center's New York State Theater through April 22. THE New York City Opera has mounted a handsome, admirably performed revival of the 1959 musical hit, ``The Sound of Music.'' With its lush Rodgers-Hammerstein score and sentimental Lindsay-Crouse libretto, the prize-winning, long-running Broadway operetta demonstrates its sturdy durability and its appeal for a new generation of family audiences.

Inspired by Maria August von Trapp's ``The Trapp Family Singers,'' the popular collaboration tells the tale of how abbey postulant Maria Rainer (Debby Boone) is assigned as governess in the household of widower Capt. Georg von Trapp (Laurence Guittard). The intrepid young newcomer embarks on an educational reform program that captivates the seven von Trapp children and ultimately captures the heart of her initially stern employer. The menace of Nazism represented by Hitler's 1938 Austrian Anschluss gives the plot its external impetus and climactic moments as the Von Trapps make a dash for the Swiss border.

Meanwhile, the Rodgers and Hammerstein score reminds us of their talent for creating the sounds of music and words that delight the ear and beguile the susceptible heart. In this respect, ``The Sound of Music'' belongs primarily to Maria and the children.

Although Miss Boone seems perhaps closer to the all-American girl than to an Austrian novice (however spunky), she gives a winning performance and exploits the appeal of such longstanding hit tunes as the title song, ``My Favorite Things,'' and ``Do-Re-Mi.''

When the score allows, Mr. Guittard, especially in ``Edelweiss,'' and Claudia Cummings (the Mother Abbess), in ``Climb Every Mountain'' add to the vocal pleasures of the performance. Werner Klemperer and Marianne Tatum are mostly along for the ride, but they help enliven the proceedings in the upbeat performance staged by James Hammerstein.

The handsomely framed settings, with their picture-postcard Alpine views, were designed and luxuriantly lighted by Neil Peter Jampolis. The Suzanne Mess period wardrobe ranges from nun's sober habits to dirndls, ballroom finery, and Nazi uniforms. Conductor Richard Parrinello does full justice to Robert Russell Bennett's orchestrations of the classic Rodgers melodies. The revival at Lincoln Center's New York State Theater is scheduled to run through April 22.

Such is the latest recall of a Rodgers-Hammerstein classic that became their final collaboration. ``The Sound of Music,'' starring Mary Martin, opened on Nov. 16, 1959, to mixed notices and then went on to run for 1,443 performances. When it closed on June 15, 1963, it had become the third-longest-running musical by the legendary partners, surpassed only by their ``Oklahoma!'' and ``South Pacific.'' Honored with a best-musical Tony and a best-picture Oscar - for the film starring Julie Andrews - the durable play has been revived only once before in New York City.

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