The Hollywood Hills Are Alive With The “Sound Of Music” The Sing-A-Long Sound Of Music Event At The Hollywood Bowl Was A Festive Affair
LOS ANGELES, CA- With the summer season drawing to a close, I headed back to the Hollywood Bowl for one more movie night: the Sing-A-Long Sound of Music. After having a blast at the Grease and The Empire Strikes Back evenings, I went with high expectations and a new appreciation for arriving dressed in theme attire.
This event is known for its costume contest, hosted by comedian Melissa Peterman. My outfit wasn’t going to be winning any prizes, but I rolled up in my most fabulous Brown Paper Package Tied Up With String outfit. At which point I promptly started running into people I knew from high school. Which wasn’t at all awkward.
The crowd was filled with nuns, curtain-clad von Trapps, favorite things, lederhosen, and a pair of creepy-looking marionettes. Costumes crossed all demographics, with a particularly strong showing by legions of male nuns. My companion looked around and remarked, “I haven’t seen this many nuns since I went to Catholic school.” It was that kind of night.
While the pre-show costume parade on stage was fun, it was perhaps overly long at an hour and a half. Host Peterman kept it lighthearted, but how many iterations of each theme did we really need to see? There were adorable kids, a marriage proposal, and a fleeting guest appearance by three actresses who had played von Trapp children — which could have easily fit into an hour max if they’d done a bit of pre-screening rather than letting what seemed like the entire capacity of the Bowl cross the stage. It was redeemed a bit by the winner: an awesome “female deer” costume composed of a fuzzy deer onesie topped with a hot pink bra — sported by a teen boy. Well, that and the fact that the prizes included goats. I assume they meant stuffed toys, but it was more fun to imagine that the Hollywood Bowl had some live goats stashed around somewhere. We were located high on a hill, after all.
Throughout the evening, I found myself comparing the event to the Grease Sing-A-Long… and The Sound of Music came out on the wrong end of the comparisons. Ultimately, the problem boiled down to the fact that The Sound of Music is unequivocally a better movie with vastly better music. Pretty much anyone can sing as well as John Travolta in Grease. Julie Andrews, on the other hand, isn’t someone you can easily emulate well. In the context of these events, it turns out that it’s consequently a lot more fun to sing along with people who aren’t very good at it themselves.
The goodie bag, too, made less sense at this event. People at Grease had embraced the bubbles, yellow handkerchief, and other items that seemed to fit more organically into the evening. This time, though, there were mostly themed cards the audience more or less ignored. Perhaps there was an explanation of what to do with the contents at the very beginning of the evening when we were stuck in the security lines, but the crowd around us appeared not to have any idea what to do with the items except for the little confetti poppers used at celebratory moments. (They also left me with a rather jaunty pile of confetti streamers that landed on my head.)
Far more effective were the moments when the audience used their cell phones to get into the mood — holding up their lights solemnly during the singing of “Edelweiss” and using the phones as searchlights during the police chase scenes. Some people in the audience had unfortunately also brought laser pointers, which they used to “scribble out” the faces of various bad guys throughout the evening. It was annoying and distracting to the point that other fans were screaming at them to stop it. I’m sure it’s difficult to isolate the people who are doing something like that, but the staff should have made a greater effort to locate and shut down whoever it was since it was crossing a line from fun interactivity into interference.
Overall, it was a nice way to spend an evening and to revisit a beloved old film. That said, it’s unlikely that I would become one of the many die-hard fans in the crowd who attend the screening year after year. I’ve adored every other Hollywood Bowl movie showing I’ve seen over the years — and I’d strongly recommend that people check out one of the upcoming performances of The Nightmare Before Christmas in concert with Danny Elfman — but this one just didn’t click as much somehow. For me, this is a farewell to the Bowl for the year. Until next summer, old friend.