As the classic popular musical film “The Sound of Music” turns 50, Broadway brought an original musical for the first time to Egypt.
The whole cast was outstanding, and the show left the audience nostalgic.
“The main voices were wonderful but Mother Superior’s voice stole the show from young Maria every time she took the stage,” audience member Christine Salz said. The voice of the actor playing Maria Von Trapp was at certain moments a bit too high in pitch, yet she was still exhilarating.
“My Favourite Things”, “Do-Re-Mi”, “Climb Ev’ry Mountain”, and “Edelweiss” were among the popular songs the audience sang along with.
Adapted from the original play, the performance in Cairo was more political than the film. “No Way to Stop It” was performed to announce Germany invading Austria, and the Captain and Baroness separate due to ideological differences: the Baroness refuses to stand up against the Nazis, and the Captain refuses to compromise with the Nazis.
With that being said, the show’s organisation by Fun Factory, hosted by Emaar Masr in Uptown Cairo, was dreadful.
Microphones lagged, and the sound system could not reach people seated at the back. Stage decorations were below mediocre, being more like those of a school play.
Although Cairo has better-equipped stages and conference halls, the setting in the tent triggered many complaints. The seating plan was a failure, with no levelling. People at the back could not only not hear, but also could not see what was happening on stage. The chairs were small and uncomfortable, and people were crammed beside each other. There was also a lack of ventilation.
“Although the show had some technical difficulties, the actors continued on like champs,” Salz said.
Many people were let in after curtain call, which is traditionally forbidden in many theatres, and despite warnings beforehand by Fun Factory. Children below the age of eligibility were still allowed in by organisers, with the minimum age on the ticket stated as five years, but on the gate mentioned as one year.
Another point of complaint was people changing their seats with higher priced ones. According to Rami Abdelrahman, an organiser bumped people up front in the premium seating area because they could not see at the back.
The event was “in an appalling setting that is completely unprepared to host and manage a performance of such magnitude”, said audience-member Kareem A. Farid on Facebook.
Despite the noise and disruption of people standing, children running around, mobile phones ringing, the performers acted their scenes in a professional manner.
“It was brilliant. I was happy that a new kind of art came to Egypt. Despite the organisation, I had so much fun,” said Maha Ebrahim, also in the audience.
The performances took place from 25 February to 2 March.
The 1965 film received five Academy Awards, including “Best Picture”, and six Tony Awards, including “Best Musical” and “Best Score”. When the film was first released on home video, it stayed on the charts for over 250 weeks, almost five years.
The United States Library of Congress selected the film for preservation in the National Film Registry in 2001.
“The Sound of Music” is also credited with being the film that saved 20th Century Fox after a crisis in 1963.