Doug Elkins began his lifelong relationship with the von Trapp family when he was a child and his grandmother took him to see the Sound of Music at the Zeigfield Theatre in the 60s.
Then he followed up that life changing event by playing re, a drop of golden son, in kindergarden. Flashforward to Joe’s Pub’s Dancemopolitan two years ago where Elkins started his cultural deconstruction of the SOM, with members of his dance troop. Elkins urban Marias became a cult. A hit at both the ADF and Jacob’s Pillow this year, the new world von Trapps twirl into Philly this week at Dance Celebration.
Elkins calls Maria “a strange outsider who has to leave the Abbey and teaches a family to heal itself and takes on the Nazis through song and dance.” Fraulein Maria is not a parody Elkins says, it is about the collective cultural memory.
“When I first went to R & H offices, they were at this long table with R H embossed on it. It was like Cinderfella, they were holding up my (proposal) like it was a wet diaper. And they are saying “You are going ‘you want to do with Maria?”
I was completely transparent with them. I told them Rolph will be played by a 6′ 4 black diva, and Lisa will be played by an equally pretty man in a pretty dress and there is even a chance that Maria will be played by three people. One being a Latino gent or African American gentlemen.”
Elkins said they were convinced after attending rehearsals.
“They thought it was phenomenal, a representative spoke at the Jacob’s Pillow performance about how this was part of Rogers & Hammerstein legacy in the 21 century. They were impressed that I was a show queen, who came completely prepared.” Doug said, with more than an ounce of pride.