An anachronism in The Sound of Music


Oddly, nobody else made this mistake...

A few weeks ago, I went to my first Sound of Music sing-along. Several people described it as a sort of Rocky Horror Picture Show for the post-college set, and they were quite right. Of course, that meant it was right up my alley.  My friend Star dressed as oldest daughter Liesl after she found the perfect pleated skirt in Goodwill. Star’s Mom went as Mother Superior, and her friend Diane was a nun (Sister HollyWood).

I went as a drunken pirate. Oops.

I loved The Sound of Music as a kid, but I only saw it maybe twice all the way through. And then, too, I had no idea the sing-along was coming to Montgomery until the day before, when I attached myself to Star’s party. I didn’t have a costume, so I ran through the songs in my head, scanned a website, and looked over some of the pictures on Star’s DVD set. And then, the next morning, still without any ideas, I thought of the song that goes:

What do you do with a drunken sailor,

What do you do with a drunken sailor,

What do you do with a drunken sailor,

Ear-lie in the mornin’

I completely remembered a scene from the movie with this song in it. It was part of the marionette section. Julie Andrews had to maneuver the puppets by herself for some reason.  Of course, the marionette sailors wore the white navy-boy uniforms, but I thought I could work with that. After all, I had a bandana and my Gypsy-Pirate-Jester-Queen Halloween costume, and I thought I could run with parts of that, striped socks, and three-quarter pants, and that it would be cute to change the sailor to a pirate.  Yeah.

I have no idea what Star thought I was doing, but she totally went along with it, helping me find a striped shirt and roll the white pants, and even dropping by Target, where I snagged the striped socks.  In Hobby Lobby, in addition to the finishing touches for her Liesl, we grabbed me the supplies to make it look like I was a string-puppet.

This last bit was possibly the only true-to-the-movie piece of my costume.

We got to the Capri theater, where I got some weird looks. I did notice that I was the only drunken sailor. But I went up for the costume contest and acted silly onstage. And I felt it my duty to act my part, since the Capri was selling champagne and I wasn’t driving.

Besides, the nuns were drinking, too. Mother Superior assured everyone that this was completely historically accurate. “Where do you think they got the word ‘habit’?” she asked.

The Capri’s owner, a surly fellow if ever one walked the Earth, said he hated The Sound of Music and Rocky Horror, and pretty much anything he had to clean up after. The event was a benefit for the Montgomery Chorale, and I got the real sense his arms had both been twisted to get his theatre’s involvement.  We laughed at him, too.

The movie began, and so did the interaction. We sang along, we talked to the screen, we booed the baroness, and had a generally glorious time. I kept waiting for my scene. The “Lonely Goatherd” came on and went off again, and I thought, “Oh, that’s right. The drunken sailor part isn’t until Act II, in the second marionette show.” I was still convinced that I remembered this.  However, by the middle of Act II, it had become clear to me that there was no drunken sailor to correspond with the lonely goatherd.  I was, in fact, a total anachronism.

I went home and Googled the drunken sailor only to find that it was an old American folk tune. While Burl Ives appears to have covered it, Rodgers and Hammerstein do not. I have no idea where I got the idea that it was in Sound of Music. But I can still hear the song in Julie Andrews voice. And I can still see her maneuvering a sailor puppet down the hatch of a puppet ship to the tune of “Put him in the brig until he’s sober”.

Oh well. Until next time, Way-hay and up she rises…Gotta give me credit for crazy creativity...

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