UPDATE: Congratulations to winner Andrew Esquer.
ORIGINAL POST: When I catch up by phone with Keslie Ward, who plays Liesl in the national tour of “The Sound of Music,” she’s in Sioux Falls, N.D. Which is not the warmest place on the planet in February, particularly for someone who grew up in Texas. She’s happy that warmer California is on the horizon as the tour prepares for a two-night stand at the Saroyan Theatre (it opens Wednesday, March 14). Here are 5 Things to Know about Ward and the show.
Plus: You can win a pair of tickets to opening night and dinner at Cosmopolitan Tavern and free parking. See details at the end of this post.
She’s 24 going on 16.
But don’t worry: Ward is used to playing younger than she is. One of her gigs before the tour was working on a Disney cruise ship, where in one production she played a girl of 12. So pulling off an infatuated teen singing “Sixteen Going on Seventeen” is no big deal.
“I kind of take time before the show to remind myself what it was like at that age, what it was like to have your first boyfriend crush,” she says.
The production is “The Sound of Music” you know and love.
There’s no tinkering with the plot, no updating with contemporary references. The Rodgers and Hammerstein classic is a period piece. But the costumes and sets have been updated for a fresher look, Ward says.
“The only thing that people might seem differently is that in the movie Max and Elsa don’t sing. In the musical they do.”
She was destined to be in this show.
As a kid, Ward played the CD until there were scratches on it. But she took her love of the show to the next level:
“I recorded a video of myself singing ‘My Favorite Things.’ I think I was 7 or 8. My mom sent a letter to Julie Andrews. And she sent me back an autograph. It’s still in my bedroom. I didn’t want to bring it on tour because I didn’t want to lose it.”
All together now: Awwwww.
Remember that the show turns dark. It’s history, after all.
The movie version doesn’t exactly downplay the Nazi element, but it does understate it in certain key ways. The stage musical is a little more explicit. The Von Trapps don’t tackle the Alps because they think it will be a fun family outing.
“As a child, this was show was my first exposure to Nazi Germany,” Ward says. “Capt. Von Trapp takes down the Nazi flag and tears it up. I didn’t know what that was. The show definitely has the tension, the political part.”
Fresno is warmer than Sioux Falls.
And it’s a lot warmer than Saskatoon, in the Canadian province of Saskatchewan, where Ward found herself in the middle of winter.
“It was, like, negative 20 degrees,” she says. “I’d never experienced cold like that.”
Welcome, then, to California in the spring. She can add it to her list of favorite things.
I’m offering a special prize package to a lucky reader of The Munro Review: a pair of balcony tickets to the opening night performance of “The Sound of Music” (7:30 p.m. Wednesday, March 14, at the Saroyan Theatre); dinner for two at the Cosmopolitan Tavern (conveniently located in the convention center parking lot); and free theater parking. (Thanks again to Cosmopolitan and Broadway in Fresno for their generosity.)
To enter, leave a comment on this post answering this question: If you were on a desert island and had to choose between one of the items mentioned in the song “My Favorite Things,” what would it be? (All are eligible except for girls in white dresses with blue satin sashes; that would just be icky.) If you’re too shy to share, just tell me why you’d like to see the show.
Deadline to enter is 10 p.m. Monday, March 12. Winner selected at random. I’ll be notifying the winner on Tuesday morning so be sure to check your email. Please don’t enter if you won’t be able to attend.
“The Sound of Music,” 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, March 14, and Thursday, March 15, Saroyan Theatre, 700 M St. Tickets are $29-$69.
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