‘SOUND’ SOLUTION FOR MUSICAL
THIS ACTRESS IS A NATURAL AS MARIA: SHE WAS A NANNY HERSELF
“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.