Popular musical pulls the crowds for auditions
How do you solve a problem like auditioning hundreds of children for just six The Sound of Music roles?
Geraldine Brophy, who is directing a new production of the popular musical for a New Zealand tour, has all the answers, just like show's lead character, von Trapp family governess Maria.
Brophy, a former Shortland Street star and accomplished stage actor, ran nearly 200 children through their paces in Christchurch on Saturday to cast the youngest six von Trapp children.
The Sound of Music follows Maria, played in the 1965 film by Julie Andrews, who changes the lives of the widowed Captain von Trapp and his children by re-introducing them to music as they escape Nazi-occupied Austria.
In small groups, the auditionees sang, danced and imitated being siblings during multiple renditions of Do-Re-Mi and So Long, Farewell. Some had travelled long distances to attend.
Thea Erichsen, 14, was among those who gave a confident audition.
It's not her first rodeo. She auditioned for the Auckland production of Annie and played Annie in the Showbiz Queenstown version.
For this show, she is keen to play either Brigitta or Louisa.
Erichsen was pleased with her performance.
"I think it went pretty good. [Brophy] was really lovely and made it a really comfortable and enjoyable experience.
"I've never been on a tour before and it would be a really awesome experience."
The successful candidates – two for each role – will perform in 20 towns and cities in September and October. They will be paid for their work and looked after by chaperones.
"To take children on such a complex tour is a first us [production company Ben McDonald Ltd]," Brophy said.
"Everyone who's auditioning understands that it's a job. It's not a world tour of New Zealand and a lot of it is not what you'd call fun. Fun is is a very serious business to be in."
That's not to say the show is not without whimsy. The Rodgers and Hammerstein musical is one of the world's most popular, despite Nazi and war-related themes.
"It takes possibly one of the most ugly and evil subject matters and times in our history and views it from point of beauty, happiness and joy," Brophy said.
She was glad to be able to take the show to centres that would not usually have access to a professional production and that whole families could attend.
"It will be recognisable to the grandparents ... and the young people here [at the audition], they are also being opened up to this great piece of work. Three generations of family can come and see it, which terrific."