Merwin Foard's been on the road with The Sound of Music for 16 (going on 17) months. The veteran of Broadway's The Addams Family and Beauty and the Beast has brought the frequently revived musical to "54 or 55" cities now, but his enthusiasm for the restored script and cinematically imagined touring production remains undiminished.
"And I'm really looking forward to coming back to Memphis," he says. "I haven't been in Memphis since I toured with Richard Harris back in the mid-'80s in a production of Camelot."
Foard's been around. He's also an actor whose vocal stylings you've probably heard, even if you've never seen him live on stage. As a voice actor, he's taken ensemble roles in the animated film versions of The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Pocahontas, and a number of other Disney musicals. He was working with the Broadway production of Aladdin when he found out Jack O'Brien, the Tony-winning director of Hairspray was staging an ambitious tour of The Sound of Music with restored dialog that's not been heard since the popular 1959 show's earliest runs.
Set on the eve of Austria's annexation into Nazi Germany and based on true stories of Maria von Trapp and the Trapp Family Singers, The Sound of Music tells the story of a society in the midst of rapid and uncertain change. Foard takes on the pivotal role of Max Detweiler, the opportunistic charmer who helps Maria and the children escape.
"I think he's very affluent in his own mind," Foard says of Max. "He's got one good suit, not any good shoes. He knows rich people and likes rubbing elbows with politicos. He has a kind of made-up title he probably gave himself, was probably in the local government, and is just trying to see how how he might elevate himself with this new regime that may or may not be coming into Austria."