You might have heard of the main protagonist Maria from “The Sound of Music,” and of course, the von Trapp family, but when the curtains open this season at the Wang Theatre, the first person you’ll see is Lauren Kidwell as Mother Abbess.
A graduate of the Boston Conservatory’s MFA program, Kidwell plays the role of a religious confidant for the women at Maria’s convent and starts the show with an acapella rendition of the hymn “Preludium.” A story that came from a book, turned into a play, turned into a movie, “The Sound of Music” is about a family escaping from 20th century Austria in the midst of a Nazi takeover, with trials of love along the way.
“This was a real time, this was a real family, and these were real people,” Kidwell says. “That brings a certain level of energy and danger and excitement to this show.”
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Earlier this month, the soundtrack from the movie version of “The Sound of Music” was added to the U.S. Library of Congress, to be preserved as a national treasure. The upcoming theater production has been adapted by director Matt Lenz and features a much younger Mother Abbess than in the film. Kidwell and the actress playing Maria, Jill Christine Wiley, are much closer in age, bringing a different spin to a role that’s been portrayed on stage for 60 years.
“Rather than just sitting from her wise chair and doling out wisdom, she actually sees so much of Maria in herself,” Kidwell says. “So she is able to help her in a very intimate and specific way.”
For Kidwell, the religious component of “The Sound of Music” cannot be ignored. The climatic piece of “Climb Ev’ry Mountain” is “just one big prayer,” according to Kidwell.
“I’m constantly praying on stage. There’s all these moments when I have to bless people,” Kidwell adds. “It’s little moments that I have in character that’re informed by my own faith.”
If you go:
May 1 - 13, Wang Theatre, 270 Tremont St., Boston, $35+, bochcenter.org