After the well-regarded choreographer Doug Elkins became a father, he made a choice to shutter his dance company to free his time to be with his new family. Nevertheless, he and his wife parted ways and a few years ago amid a despairing funk over the demise of his marriage and the loss of his company, he found again his muse in a bonding session with his young son. The genesis of his re-emergence on the dance scene was watching the 1965 film The Sound Of Music and singing along with his three-year-old to the musical number “The Lonely Goatherd.”
In Fräulein Maria, his loving parody of the seminal musical, three Marias twirl about. One is comically danced by Arthur Aviles, his bald pate conjuring a The King and I Yul Brynner to a Julie Andrews soundtrack. In another stroke of drag brilliance, the demure Liesl “I am sixteen going on seventeen, I know that I’m naive. Fellows I meet will tell me I’m sweet and willingly I’ll believe,” is performed to prim perfection by the hulking David Parker slipcovered in satin. Innuendo abounds, yet the quirky, campy style makes it completely kid-friendly–fun for everyone.
The clever sets and costumes by Lake Simons offer sight gags and quick changes integral to the movement of the show. When Elkins himself dons a black hoodie and yoga pants, his face framed by a coronal sliver of white for an epiphanic solo, “Climb Ev’ry Mountain,” we are transported to the abbey and Maria’s (and perhaps more importantly, Elkins’ own) moment of truth.
An expanded version of the show, which received accolades during two Joe’s Pub runs in 2006 and 2007, was commissioned by Lincoln Center for its Out of Doors series. In a wink-wink reference to the song “Maria” from the score, Doug Elkins is described in the show’s program as “a flibbertigibbet, a will-o’-the-wisp, a clown.” His tomfoolery is as quirkily endearing as the straw-hatted, pinafore-wearing, guitar-lugging Maria when first we meet her in The Sound of Music. I, along with the rest of the charmed audience remained in a state of delight throughout, in spite of the unrelenting midday sun in the largely treeless Damrosch Park.
Maria gets her confidence.
Meeting the VonTrapp children.
“My Favorite Things.” Just before the thunderstorm that sends the children scurrying into Maria’s bed.
“I’d like to stay and taste my first champagne” Though this Liesl prefers a dry martini, with olives.