The musical "The Hills Are Alive," part of "The 2013 New York Musical Theatre Festival," takes its title quite literally. Mocking the original 1965 film "The Sound of Music" with character changes and adjustments. The play starts by taking the "Von Klapp" kids from Austria to Switzerland after the Nazi invasion, as they sing along to "Mathilde's" (instead of Maria) instructions.
The uplifting songs are portrayed as torture for the kids, who can't stop singing even when they have no food nor shelter and their father has been captured by the Nazis. The story turns into a dark comedy of a family trying to survive while hiking through the hills, and the hardships they have to endure. In the midst of chaos, death and hunger, they hallucinate that the hills are actually alive, and have a higher message for them. While no matter what happens, Mathilde keeps singing, oblivious to the horror surrounding her.
The musical continues to get darker, which makes it funnier: The younger kid is taken away by a wild bear, while another one is kidnapped by mountain rapists, Mathilde falls of a cliff, and someone dies in each scene. The dark side of the play is amusing. They aren't bold enough to stand-up for their dark choices, and instead they turn it all around in the end, offering a poor explanation for each character's death as if it was just an illusion or misunderstanding - and actually everyone is still alive. The happy ending seems to defeat the purpose of the satire, making the show less interesting in the end.
By Julia Melim / Twitter: @juliamelim
See our "Behind the Scenes" coverage with the cast & crew including video footage here: