Saturday, May 10, 2014

How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria?

How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria?

5 Questions with Mary Harmon

Maria von Trapp, The Sound of Music


by Alexa Giacomini, Member – Muni Board of Managers


AG: Tell us a little about yourself…

MH: I grew up in Chatham and graduated from SHG in 1989. I attended Millikin University on a musical theater scholarship, but realized my true calling was education.


I have been married to my husband Dave for 11 wonderful years. His job relocated us out-of-state for about 6 years. In 2009, we were fortunate enough to move back home to Springfield with our two children, Lucy (age 10) and Peter (age 9). 


Since then, I went back to teaching at my children's school, Christ the King, where I am blessed to teach 6th grade again. In fact, two of my current students and some former students will be in the production, as well. 


AG: What’s your Muni experience?

MH: My first Muni show was back in 1988 - Annie Get Your Gun. I auditioned for years and Paul Presney, the director, gave me my first opportunity to appear in the chorus at age 16. It was an amazing experience.

I was cast in a supporting role the following year in Fiddler on the Roof. I played Hodel, one of Tevye's daughters, and shared the stage with The Sound of Music's vocal director, Elizabeth Donathan. Since then, I have been in many other Muni shows, but my favorites were playing Rose in Bye Bye Birdie (1998), a storyteller in Children of Eden (2000), and most recently, a chorus member of Les Miserables (2013). 

Moving back home has allowed me the opportunity to be a part of the wonderful Muni family again along with my daughter, Lucy, who has appeared in shows the past two summers and will be Baby Bear in Shrek this summer. 

AG: The Sound of Music is one of theatre's most well-known and loved shows. What do you see as the challenges in taking on the role of Maria? What are you most looking forward to in portraying this role?

MH: Oh my, there will be many challenges ahead of me in taking on the role of Maria! First of all, it is such an iconic musical and just about everyone imagines Julie Andrews playing Maria, as do I. She is not an easy actress to live up to, but I will do my best to bring her idea of Maria along with my own to the Muni stage.

I look forward to portraying a role that has been a dream of mine since I was a little girl. The Sound of Music has always been one my favorite musicals because of the ideals and values the story brings to life. Both Maria and the Captain face difficult internal struggles that are not easy to bring to light on a stage, but it is my hope that both John and I will do them justice. 

Our director, Greg Donathan, has put together a phenomenal cast, and I am greatly anticipating working with all of them, especially my dear friend, Johna Keen, who will portray the Reverend Mother. If I can listen to her sing "Climb Every Mountain" on stage every night without crying it will be a miracle. 

AG: What's your personal experience with The Sound of Music?

MH: I remember watching The Sound of Music with my mom as a little girl and singing all the songs. Before the time of VCRs, DVDs and DVRs, we had to wait until it aired on TV, usually just once a year, to enjoy the beauty of it. 

Most little girls dream of being one of the children, usually Liesel, but not me. Julie Andrews as Maria was such an inspiration.  She was pure class, but very loveable and real. 

AG: Why should people come see The Sound of Music?

MH: Why not?  It's a lovely musical with a beautiful message of true love, sacrifice and unconditional faith. As Mother Abbess states, "You have to find the life you were born to live."  Don't miss the opportunity to enjoy a night of beautiful music under the stars at The Muni!

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