‘SOUND’ SO­LU­TION FOR MU­SI­CAL

THIS AC­TRESS IS A NAT­U­RAL AS MARIA: SHE WAS A NANNY HER­SELF

The Commercial Appeal - Go Memphis - - News - By Christo­pher Blank

“THE SOUND OF MU­SIC” is one of the quin­tes­sen­tial mu­si­cal the­ater ti­tles, the kind of show that ei­ther makes the­ater lovers rush to get tick­ets or roll their eyes with ex­as­per­a­tion.

Sur­pris­ingly, how­ever, when The­atre Mem­phis opens its 90th sea­son this week­end with a new stag­ing, it’s not back be­cause of pop­u­lar de­mand.

The the­ater hasn’t per­formed “The Sound of Mu­sic” since 1991, when it re­ceived its The­atre Mem­phis de­but.

Now that the show has re­turned, how’s this for pop­u­lar­ity: Sea­son tick­ets sub­scrip­tions are up 40 per­cent from this time last sea­son, and new sub­scribers are up 100 per­cent.

“We have two very fam­ily-friendly shows book-end­ing the sea­son,” said ex­ec­u­tive pro­ducer Debbie Litch. “ ‘Joseph and the Amaz­ing Tech­ni­color Dream­coat’ is the last show of the year. I think the sea­son tick­ets are es­pe­cially ap­peal­ing to big fam­i­lies.”

Though Litch prom­ises a tra­di­tional stag­ing of the Rodgers and Ham­mer­stein clas­sic, one as­pect in the cast­ing is par­tic­u­larly note­wor­thy.

Star­ring in the role of Maria — the nun-turned-nanny to the wid­owed Aus­trian naval cap­tain Ge­org von Trapp — is Emily Chateau, who moved to Mem­phis in June 2008 while em­ployed as an ac­tual nanny.

Raised in Detroit, Chateau was liv­ing in Kala­ma­zoo when she was hired by a tele­vi­sion jour­nal­ist and his wife to be nanny to their first child.

When the cou­ple came to Mem­phis, she fol­lowed. Chateau, 24, al­ready had a lengthy the­atri­cal ré­sumé, and had even played Maria once be­fore in a high school pro­duc­tion of “The Sound of Mu­sic.”

“I had done a lot of mu­si­cal the­ater and Shake­speare,” Chateau said. “Some direc­tors see me as an in­génue, and oth­ers see me as the best friend type. I’m short and have big curly hair.”

Chateau didn’t waste any time get­ting ac­quainted with Mem­phis the­ater upon her ar­rival. In fact, she was cast in a mu­si­cal her first day in town.

“I packed up my mini­van and drove straight to Mem­phis. It was a 12-hour drive,” she said. “I got to town, un­packed some clothes out of the garbage bag and was au­di­tion­ing for ‘Sweeney Todd.’ ”

Since land­ing an en­sem­ble role in that first pro­duc­tion last sea­son, Chateau has been cast in a num­ber of small but

In ‘‘The Sound of Mu­sic’’ at The­atre Mem­phis, Maria (Emily Chateau) is sur­rounded by the von Trapp chil­dren por­trayed by (clock­wise from right) Paige Rob­bins Hol­len­beck, Henry Wid­dop, Lauren Du­na­vant, Char­lotte Ni­chols, Cather­ine Bog­gan, Sam Shankman and Mikayla House.

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