I had no idea that The Sound of Music had been revived as a stage musical in London until a French tourist told me about it the other day. This young fellow had been to see the show, which had affected him deeply.
“It is now my desire to make love to a beautiful nun and marry her,” he declared.
Perhaps he was taking the story too literally. Ambition is a fine thing in the young, but one has to have a sense of what is feasible.
“I don’t want to puncture your balloon, Henri, but I believe that nuns take a vow of lifelong chastity,” I said. “Maria was just an apprentice.”
My cautionary words left him undaunted. “I think they just pretend,” he said. “They ‘play hard to get’ as you say. I can see the passion in their eyes.”
He did have a point about their eyes, but I doubted their piety was a façade to attract suitors. Humans are certainly devious creatures, but not so devious as to submit to the rigours of convent life in the hope that some Gallic Romeo will take a fancy to them.
“I expect the ardour in their eyes is for God,” I said. “He’s tough competition, Henri, even for a man of your good looks.”
Henri raised his left eyebrow and grinned. “When I make love to a woman she cries the name of God,” he boasted. “So you see, GB, I am not jealous of God. I am even willing to share a woman with Him!”
There was obviously nothing I could say to dent the confidence of a man who thought he was doing the Almighty a favour every time he made a woman climax.
“That’s mighty generous of you, Henri,” I remarked, “but I suggest you chat up Mother Superior before stealing the heart of one of her girls. You might have more to fear from her than God.”
Henri laughed and promised to send me photos of his ‘Maria’, both with and without the habit. It remains to be seen whether life will successfully mimic art.
I’ve never seen The Sound of Music on stage, but I regret that the famous film version gives me belly cramps. Call me old-fashioned, but a fresh-faced Austrian girl is not worthy of the description unless she speaks English in one of those delightful “little Miss Fräulein” accents, complete with all the Teutonic vowels. Julie Andrews was horribly miscast as Maria, and her inability to do the voice meant that Christopher Plummer (who is a master of accents) was forced to play Captain von Trapp as an English gentleman. No wonder he hates the movie. I enjoy a cut-glass English accent as much as the next ape, but there is a time and a place for everything.
The storyline is also implausible. When Maria arrives on the scene, Captain von Trapp is engaged to a buxom baroness with a sizeable personal fortune and a sturdy pair of calves. I can’t think of a man less likely to cast her aside for an earnest young chit who sings pretty songs and gives every indication of wanting to add to his existing brood of seven. You can’t have it both ways. Either the Captain was a tough, unsentimental naval commander who liked everything to be in its right place, or a big softie who pined for girls in white dresses and blue satin sashes. The idea that the former could be changed into the latter by singing a few syrupy songs is corny in the extreme.
In my version of the story, I’d replace the Captain with a young Frenchman called Henri who runs a dating agency for nuns. All the men who apply are carefully vetted to ensure they are either impotent or gay, so the nuns can be wined and dined without endangering their holy vows. But then Henri falls in love with a young nun called Maria and selects himself for her date. One thing leads to another and Maria leaves the convent for the delights of Henri’s boudoir. Throw in a few singing orphans and I’m confident it would be a smash.
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