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Phone lines at Vt. lodge alive after ‘Sound’ revival

By Lisa Rathkel
Associated Press

STOWE, Vt. Even if it’s good for business, NBC’s revival of “The Sound of Music” wasn’t one of the von Trapps’ favorite things.

Three-quarters of a century after they arrived from Austria, and in the week since the televised version of the musical classic became a national topic of conversation, the singing family and the vacation lodge it runs in the hills of Vermont are in high demand.

And yes, the family was watching as Carrie Underwood, in a widely watched and panned performance, took over the role of Maria von Trapp, made famous on Broadway by Mary Martin and on film by Julie Andrews.

Kristina von Trapp, granddaughter of the real Maria von Trapp, who died in 1987, visited guests as it was shown at the inn in Stowe. And in a blog post, Francoise von Trapp, daughter of Maria von Trapp’s stepson Rupert, questioned the casting.

“For everyone who thought the whole thing was wonderful and that NBC did a spectacular job, I say maybe your expectations weren’t high to begin with,” she wrote. “If they hoped to have created a new holiday classic, I think they missed their mark.”

But they aren’t denying the musical is helping business, even if the majority of callers are merely curious and not making reservations.

“It definitely stirred up a lot of conversation wanting to know was the family watching, things like that,” said Jennifer Vincent, the lodge’s marketing director.

It wasn’t entirely unexpected. Whenever the movie starring Andrews and Christopher Plummer airs on television – typically around Christmas – the lodge gets a lot of traffic on its website and social media, Vincent said.

More than 18 million people tuned in to the revival, according to the Nielsen company. NBC plans an encore broadcast from 8 to 11 p.m. Saturday.

The musical and movie are a fictionalized account of the life of Maria von Trapp and tell the story of a 1930s Austrian governess who teaches her charges to sing and falls in love with her employer, naval captain Georg von Trapp, and the family’s flight during World War II.

They moved to Vermont in 1942 after visiting during a singing tour and vacationing in Stowe.

“They enjoyed the kind of quality of people that were here in Vermont,” said Sam Messer, who gives tours of the lodge. “They loved kind of the work ethic and stick-to-it-iveness.”

They built a rustic farmhouse and started taking in boarders. As a ski industry developed in the area, they expanded. Fire destroyed it in 1980, but the family rebuilt.

Four of the 10 von Trapp siblings are still alive, although none live at the lodge anymore. At least three are still in Vermont.

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