Not My Favourite Things (Uxbridge Cosmos Jan. 2014)

Over the holidays, I was reminded of something that displeases me. Something I could never really put my finger on, something I could never admit is bothersome to me, because of its part in something near-sacred to so many in this world. No, that displeasure was not caused by a family dispute over which elementary school-made angel to use atop the tree, nor was it the horrifying, cheer-crushing experience of shopping at Mastermind the week before Christmas, with two young children on the brink of naptime. No, it was not the generous portion of rum in my eggnog – though I suppose its effects did help in the recognition of this somewhat offensive “something.” Yes, my friends, forgive me: I HATE the shoes in the movie, The Sound of Music.
Over the past few years, I’ve joined the throngs of folks that sit down at Christmas in front of the ol’ Yule log of today – the flat screen – warming my cockles to the enchanting sounds of the Family Von Trapp on whatever network chooses to run the blessed three-hour beast of a movie musical. My poor husband, up to his eyeballs in wrapping  - something he abhors more than anything in the world – occasionally peeks his head into the living room, sadly asking if the damned thing is over yet. No, darling. No. Maria is still a problem at the abbey and hasn’t even climbed Chris Plummer’s mountain yet. And my hubby, defeated, slinks back down to his man cave while I huddle under my Snuggie with my spiked nog and bask in the glow of truly classic music theatre.
As a kid, I really didn’t like The Sound of Music much. I suppose I followed my grandfather’s lead, as he used to affectionately refer to the iconic show as “The Sound of Mucus.” But as I grew older, more comfortable with myself and slightly more experienced as a performer, I began to appreciate the 1965 film more and more. Julie Andrews, for one. By God what a voice! She will always be the quintessential Maria for me. Also, I find that I can now appreciate the film as a showcase of actual performative skill; the glory days of Hollywood when a movie star was more often than not a legitimate singer-actor or singer-actor-dancer and not just a sellable pretty face. Glamour with substance. The steaming pile of television, which was the recent live televised version of The Sound of Music, starring idol, Carrie Underwood and Vampire Bill, was a dreadful and utterly drab revival, save for Audra McDonald, the seasoned Broadway goddess, whose poise and skill just about pixelated all the other performers off the small screen.
But, to the point: those horrifyingly ugly and completely distracting shoes. What happened? Did somebody blow the budget elsewhere? I understand that with all his drinking and carousing during the making of the film, Chris Plummer’s costumes had to be let out several times. Maybe that was it. Or perhaps it was an earnest attempt to accurately portray the style of pre-war Austria, which I commend. But listen, if this mid-60s film can relax the style rules for The Baroness, making her a little more bouffant and little less finger wave, then why couldn’t we have taken those poor children out of their wooly socks and sandals and put them into an adorable, wee Mary Jane (they’re already wearing curtains, for Pete’s sake!) I also understand that Charmian Carr (the woman who played Liesl) had badly injured her ankle and still danced the “Sixteen Going on Seventeen” number. So, please, show me a classic flat, for her sake and mine! Not a square-heeled, square-ish-toed shoe that the Queen’s mother wore on her deathbed. It’s not that I’m expecting Friedrich and Brigitta and the entire cast to be prancing around Vienna in platforms and patent leather, I just find these eyesores of underdone glam a bit of a pea in my mattress.
Now, you’re probably wondering, why does this matter? Why should I care? Why am I reading this deranged woman’s column about nothing and how can I get the last wasted five minutes of my life back? Well, friends, I don’t really have an answer for you. I can only say that I am a woman of details and I’m also a mom of two boys, so sue me, but a little glamour goes a long way these days. When I sit down to watch a classic Hollywood movie, I crave a little perfection, a little sparkle, a little suspension of disbelief. Why ruin a perfectly good movie musical with a utilitarian loafer? Isn’t that the kind of shoe that Herr Zeller wants us all to wear?! We can’t let him win!
As a member of the music theatre community, I know that this admission leaves me open to the scorn of my people - perhaps a flaming bag of dog doo on my porch, or a cold shoulder at the Monday night Music Theatre Open Mic on Church Street – but there’s nothing to be done. The festering displeasure caused by ugly shoes in The Sound of Music has begun to ruin something that for some time has indeed become – despite my grandfather and myself – one of my favourite things. 

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