Friday, April 25, 2014
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Von Trapps’ Vt. lodge taps interest in new musical

Real Sound of Music

This 2004 file photo provided by the Trapp Family Lodge shows the Trapp Family Lodge in Stowe, Vt., lit up for the Christmas holidays. After a televised update of "The Sound of Music" on Dec. 5, 2013, the hills of Vermont were alive with phones ringing at the lodge. Three-quarters of a century after the singing family arrived from Austria, they're still in demand at the 96-room chalet style inn they started. The family moved to the spot in 1942 after visiting Vermont on a singing tour and vacationing in Stowe. (AP Photo/Trapp Family Lodge, Don Landwehrle, File)

STOWE, Vt. — In the week since NBC aired a revival of “The Sound of Music,” the real von Trapp and the vacation lodge it runs in Vermont are in high demand.

And yes, the family was watching as Carrie Underwood, in a widely watched and panned performance, took over the role of Maria von Trapp, made famous on Broadway by Mary Martin and on film by Julie Andrews.

In a blog post, Francoise von Trapp, daughter of Maria von Trapp’s stepson Rupert, questioned the casting.

“For everyone who thought the whole thing was wonderful and that NBC did a spectacular job, I say maybe your expectations weren’t high to begin with,” she wrote, noting she doesn’t speak for the family or lodge. “If they hoped to have created a new holiday classic, I think they missed their mark.”

Kristina von Trapp Frame, granddaughter of the real Maria von Trapp, and her brother Sam von Trapp, executive vice president of the Trapp Family Lodge, were more diplomatic, calling Underwood a beautiful singer.

“It is relevant and interesting to a new group of people, and that’s the important thing,” von Trapp Frame said Thursday. “The original movie is an inspiration to many people, and if it continues that inspiration, that is only a good thing.”

The family isn’t denying the musical is helping business, even if most callers are merely curious. And there could be another bump after NBC’s encore broadcast on Saturday.

Whenever the movie starring Andrews and Christopher Plummer airs on television – typically around Christmas – the lodge’s website gets a lot of traffic, said marketing director Jennifer Vincent.

The musical and movie are a fictionalized account of the life of Maria von Trapp and tell the story of a 1930s Austrian governess who teaches her charges to sing and falls in love with her employer, naval captain Georg von Trapp, and the family’s flight before World War II.

They moved to Vermont in 1942 after visiting during a singing tour and vacationing in Stowe.

They built a rustic farmhouse and started taking in boarders. As a ski industry developed in the area, they expanded. Fire destroyed it in 1980, but the family rebuilt.

One of the captain’s daughters, also named Maria von Trapp, played accordion and taught Austrian dance with sister Rosemarie at the lodge. Rosemarie also taught her sons how to play the recorder, said Phoebe Everson, of Plattsburgh, N.Y., who has been a visitor for decades.

Four of the 10 von Trapp siblings are still alive, and two live on the lodge’s grounds.

The 96-room chalet-style inn is the height of charm during the holidays. With its wide views of the mountains that reminded the family of their native Austria, the lodge is decorated with Christmas trees and poinsettias. In the restaurants, wiener schnitzel and apple strudel are on the menu.

On Christmas Eve, guests get a special treat: The von Trapp family sings Christmas carols with the guests. But no songs from “The Sound of Music.”

The Associated Press

The Associated Press

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