17 Malaysian children picked for ‘The Sound of Music’

by AZALEA AZUAR / pics source: Base Entertainment Asia

OVER 400 children from all over Malaysia have climbed every mountain, ford every stream and followed every rainbow.

But only 17 of them (picture) found their dream where they will make the hills alive with “The Sound of Music” at Istana Budaya in Kuala Lumpur (KL) from Dec 27, 2022.

The group of children between the ages of six and 13 were selected based on their acting, singing and dancing abilities to play six out of seven von Trappe children — Friedrich (age 14), Louisa (13), Kurt (11), Brigitta (10), Marta (seven) and Gretl (five).

The role of Gretl will be alternately performed by Kimaya Peiris (eight years old), Olivia Leong Yue Shuen (nine) and Nur Lily Armani Saiful Bahtiar (seven), while Marta will be played by nine-year-olds Allegra Ai Ping Hew, Wan Emma Rose Wan Mohd Fyzaal and Olivia Wood.

Brigitta will be played by En Huang (10), Natasha Tan (13) and Vern Faye Yeoh, and Kurt’s character will be performed by Sean Lee Hong Jun (12), Lafayette Victor (11) and Norman Ong Wen Zhe (nine).

Chloe Siaw (14 years old), Doreen Yip Zhi Ying (11) and Isabelle Ho (12) will bring the role of Louisa to life, while the eldest Trapp boy Friedrich will be played by Izz Quedy Akhirudin (13) and Christian Duvan Garry Malo (12).

Tremendous Entertainment Group chairman Datuk Jared Lim (left) and Prudhomme at the media briefing. Prudhomme says so many children turned up that the casting crew had to work long hours

Tremendous Turn-up

The “Sound of Music” musical at Istana Budaya is being produced by Broadway International Group and presented by Base Entertainment Asia, which is under Tremendous Entertainment Group. It will kick off its season from Dec 27 for three weeks.

According to Tremendous Entertainment Group group CEO Chantal Prudhomme, she had never experienced auditions like this before as so many children turned up. As a result, the casting crew had to work long hours from 6.30am to 7pm.

“I know that people came from all over Malaysia, I know this for a fact, because I was hearing parents wanting to make plans for their children.

“So, they are already planning all of that and we can’t make this happen without the dedication of the parents,” she said at a recent press conference.

The initiative of having local talents in an international production is also a way to boost Malaysia’s arts and theatre scene, which is why Base also aims to establish a Broadway Academy here to foster their skills in the performing arts.

“Hence, ‘The Sound of Music’ was chosen for this initiative because it has been running for 65 years and it is known by multiple generations.

“It’s a beautiful classical story. How do you fit normal children into a story like ‘The Sound of Music’?

“I always see it’s about love, it’s about kind of getting over adversity and that’s universal,” Prudhomme added.

Gray (left) and Daniel at the press conference. Daniel says the the talent that they saw were phenomenal and that made it even harder for them to choose

Phenomenal Talent

“The Sound of Music” Broadway creative team, comprising Anthony C Daniel, James Gray and Nate Patten, travelled all the way from New York to the audition venue at Dominus Arts Venue in Wangsa Maju, KL, for the auditions on June 28-29.

Instead of spending thousands of dollars to attend the most prestigious performing art schools in the US, these Broadway professionals came here to train the kids.

Its tour choreographer James Gray treated the audition like how they did back in New York.

“There were no allowances and we had to prepare for the stuff for exactly two and a half days, and we prepared both because we knew exactly what we wanted.

“But we were also open if someone was so exquisite and was gonna bring something new and unique to that role,” he explained.

In order to ensure the children can still be themselves while in their characters, the Broadway team will not reinvent the performance but rather honour it.

“The Sound of Music” associate tour director Anthony C Daniel said the audition process involved rounds and rounds of singing, as well as learning the choreography.

“It’s very long and the most heartbreaking part of it is at the end of each section of auditions, having to say goodbye to the ones who just don’t quite fit the pieces of the puzzle that we’re looking for.

“But I have to say the talent that we saw in this city were phenomenal and that made it even harder to have to say we have to make a choice.”

The director also shared how the children will carry out the rehearsals where they will have to learn basic staging, then having a meeting with the creators. Finally, they will go through the costumes, orchestra and the scenery.

Tickets Available Now

The original 1959 Broadway production of “The Sound of Music” won five Tony Awards, including Best Musical, while the 1965 movie starring Julie Andrews won five Oscars, including Best Picture.

“The Sound of Music” tells the story of fun-loving governess Maria, who transformed the lives of widowed Captain von Trapp and his seven children by reintroducing them to music. Due to World War II, the family was forced to flee into the Austrian mountains.

Its beloved songs include “My Favourite Things”, “Do-Re-Mi”, “Climb Ev’ry Mountain”, “Edelweiss”, “The Lonely Goatherd”, “Sixteen Going on Seventeen” and the all-time fan favourite “The Sound of Music”.

Tickets for “The Sound of Music” are now available between RM320 and RM2,320.