BWW EXCLUSIVE: Christian Borle Talks THE SOUND OF MUSIC & Laura Benanti Comments
The most highly anticipated movie musical event of the year is undoubtedly this week's live NBC TV presentation of Rodgers & Hammerstein's classic family-friendly musical THE SOUND OF MUSIC and today some of the stars of this week's broadcast are sharing some comments on their featured roles in the enterprise - recent Tony Award-winning PETER & THE STARCATCHER star and former SMASH ensemble player Christian Borle, along with some generous and fascinating insights on his character also provided by his co-star, fellow Tony Award winner Laura Benanti, as well.
Our Arms Around Each Other
In THE SOUND OF MUSIC, Christian Borle essays the role of the jovial Max Dettweiler, friend and confidant to Captain Von Trapp. While the role is non-musical in the iconic film version, Borle has the opportunity to perform as part of a handful of musical numbers in this new adaptation of the stage musical - including the jaunty "No Way To Stop It" trio with Elsa (Laura Benanti) and Von Trapp (Stephen Moyer) and the Max/Elsa comic duet "How Can Love Survive?", in addition to a few musical moments with the Von Trapp children, too.
Borle surprisingly reveals to me that he was generally unfamiliar with the world renown property - movie or stage musical - prior to his involvement with the new live NBC telecast adaptation, relating when I asked him what his most fond memories of the property are, "I have to tell you, Pat - it was actually a cultural black hole for me growing up."
No way! "Yes. It's also the same for me with PETER PAN. I never saw PETER PAN growing up and that ended up becoming such an important part of my career," Borle observes in reference to his famed PETER & THE STARCATCHER performance.
"Sorry - I just want to plug my past roles, I guess" Borle amusingly adds of the tangent before a boisterous laugh.
Furthermore, Borle asserts, "So, what's actually really lovely about this experience is that this is my introduction to THE SOUND OF MUSIC. The first time that I heard the whole story as it was written for the stage was at our first read-through."
So, what was his immediate reaction to the piece? "I found it to be tremendously moving - just aces all around. So, I am incredibly happy that this has been my first experience with it."
Illuminating her own experiences of working with Borle in rehearsing the Elsa/Max scenes and songs in THE SOUND OF MUSIC, fellow Tony Award winner Laura Benanti recently shared with me her own glowing impressions of the actor as part of our upcoming InDepth InterView UpDate, stating, "I am happy that Christian Borle will be playing Max - he is such an absolute genius and working with him is such an honor. And, he is so funny and delightful and just hits all of the notes that you would imagine Max would hit, but there is also a depth to him just because Christian is so supremely intelligent as an actor."
In speaking specifically of his character himself, Borle shares, "Max is fascinating. He's got many, many layers going on - mainly, he's an opportunist."
How does Borle himself see Max as a character and a figure at the politically volatile time in Europe in which the show takes place? "I think that he is a very smart, savvy guy who understands very well the times that these people are living in - perhaps even more than anyone else does - and I think what's really, really lovely about him as a character is that, for all his opportunism, he loves this family and he shows it when push comes to shove at the end."
Benanti, too, alludes to Max's memorable final moment in our conversation, coming tomorrow, hinting, "I don't want to spoil it for you, but the final moment we see him is...." she trails off with a slight pause and a sigh, then: "Quite moving. So...."
Summing up his experience with THE SOUND OF MUSIC as he anticipates the eagerly awaited live presentation later this week before a nationwide audience, Borle says of the character of Max, "He's been really, really fun to play and I am really excited about the pencil-thin mustache and the teeny-teeny glasses that are going to come with him."
More information on THE SOUND OF MUSIC on NBC on December 5 is available at the official site here.
From This Author Pat Cerasaro