The Teatro stage is once again going to be alive with The Sound of Music. Starring as Captain von Trapp in this much-loved and popular production is the talented actor and singer Andre Schwartz. He has mesmerised audiences with his portrayals of some of the most iconic leads in Andrew Lloyd Webber musicals and will be reprising his role as the stern Captain. We caught up with him to talk about The Sound of Music and his craft.
Why do you think audiences love The Sound of Music so much?
The visual aspect of this production is breathtaking. Pieter [Toerien]’s productions are of the highest quality and when he called me to read for the part, I knew it would be good.
But seeing it for the first time was incredible – to see how exquisitely the set was lit and how beautiful it looked was very exciting. They have managed to capture the beauty of a country house set in Austria just magnificently.
Then there’s the story and the music – you can’t help but be drawn in and sing with. It’s so cleverly written and there are so many levels to the storytelling. The intensity of the Nazi invasion in Austria. The beautiful naivety of the children. The wonderful love story of a Captain and a nun. It is all just so brilliantly written, and then there is the incredible orchestra. All of this is why I like being part of this production.
What is your favourite song to perform in this production?
I love the Something Good duet between the Captain and Maria. The words are beautiful and it has such a lovely melody.
Above: Andre Schwartz, who plays Captain von Trapp in The Sound of Music
You are a seasoned performer both in front of the camera and on stage. What is it like performing with the young cast in The Sound of Music?
I love kids in a performance – they keep you on your toes, especially the little ones. There is always more spontaneity, and it’s far more relaxed.
Stage performances, unlike televisions and film, are live. What do you do if something goes wrong on stage?
I am not a performer who is afraid of things going wrong because I feel that 99% of the time the audience is there to enjoy the show and not to critisise. If something does go wrong, I think you will very rarely have an audience that will be really upset about it. I think the biggest “X-factor” for any artist is an element of vulnerability. When something goes wrong on stage, this vulnerability reveals itself and I think it makes the audience feel like they are more part of the process. Obviously there are varying degrees – fumbling a line is very different to negligence.
Well my biggest fear with The Sound of Music is that I forget to come on stage with the Captain’s whistle.
Oh yes, that is an important prop. Have you ever forgotten it?
(Laughs) No, but it’s probably the one thing I am neurotic about in this production.
What has been your most memorable performance?
Probably my first performance in front of an audience as the Phantom in The Phantom of the Opera. It was the most surreal feeling. When the show came to an end and it was time for our curtain call, I remember joining the cast and only then realised I was actually walking on the floorboards of a stage. Throughout the entire show, up until that moment, I hadn’t been aware of my presence in a physical space. I was honestly left with a sense of “What has just happened?”.
Would you say that your career was always a calling?
It’s just something I wanted to do. I studied music from a young age. We had a piano in our home, which I still have to this day, and my Mom sent me for music lessons – and so it went. In terms of singing – we never knew I could sing. When I was in high school, I randomly decided to audition for the Drakensberg Boys’ Choir School and I was selected. Although I never took the spot, I realised I could sing…
The rest, as they say, is history.