The hills are quiet.
Agathe von Trapp, eldest daughter of George Ritter von Trapp, stepdaughter to Maria Augusta Kutschera, older sister to 9 siblings, companion to Mary Louise Kane, died Tuesday at the age of 97.
Her alter ego, of course, was Liesl, memorably played by Charmian Carr from the 1965 version of The Sound of Music.
Here’s her signature scene from the movie (skip ahead to the :30 mark)
I never liked Rolf, even before I knew what Nazis were—he was a smug prig. And, of course, a Nazi. (I don’t even much like this scene—those lyrics!—but it would be a cheat not to show this.)
Agathe was not Liesl, and The Sound of Music was not a documentary; it also just possible that life was not as idyllic for the von Trapp children as was suggested by the movie.
I don’t care.
I love The Sound of Music. Love love love.
I saw it for the first time when I was around 6; it was playing at a cinema in Sheboygan, and my mom and grandma took my sister and me to see it. I was opposed going in—a musical? where they’ll be singing the whole time? how awful!—but boy oh boy was I a convert coming out.
Mountains! Singing! Adventure! A lake in the backyard! Julie Andrews! Bad guys! Escape from bad guys! Mountains!
Really, what’s not to love?
What cemented this adoration, however, was my role in my high school’s production of the musical. K. was Maria, M. was the Baroness, and I (eek!), I got my first speaking role as Brigitta, the daughter who makes her entrance reading a book.
(This matters because one night F. (Liesl) and T. (Louisa) and I went out for a little pre-rehearsal nip. By the time we made it to the auditorium, we we all roaring drunk—F., the driver, the drunkest of all. I was lucky in not having to march and march and march and hold the line, but even when I did finally make my entrance and take my place in line, I had difficulty (as did F. and T.) remaining erect. Some time later (and while rehearsing a different scene) F. was ordered off the stage by the D.-the-director, and when she refused to leave—screaming “I”m not drunk!”—D. high-heeled her way up to the stage and threw her off. T. and I thought it best to leave the auditorium at this point.)
I had a ball in this play, and not just because of the drinking. Play rehearsal was 6-10 MTTh, and after school until 6 on Wednesdays; as the opening approached, we had Friday night and Saturday rehearsals as well. All that time together, on stage and down front and in the green room and the wings and hallways and on the catwalk and in the way back of the auditorium, it was cozy and liberating all at the same time. The whole place was ours.
M. and I were already friends, but K. and I became quite close, as I did with F. and T. Since all of them were older than me, we didn’t have much to do with one another during the school-day, but the intimacy of the shared work remained. Almost all of us in the cast were theatre kids, weird, slightly disreputable (well, except for K., who was unimpeachable), and if we didn’t swagger like jocks, we did delight in our performing selves.
It was a wonderful time. Not perfect (see: F. getting tossed from the stage), and not without the drama of both adolescence and the high school theatre scene, but oh, we were all so alive, so willing to give ourselves wholly over to this production, and to one another.
I can’t live like that, not all the time, and maybe, now, not at all. But I’m glad I was there, I’m glad that it’s all still with me.
So Agathe, even though The Sound of Music was only barely your story, still, thank you, and rest in peace.