A few weeks ago in another post on this blog, Sutherland analyst Matthew Piccolo brought to light the vulgar content presented during parts of the Sundance Institute’s annual film festival. While I share his concerns about the festival, Sundance also deserves praise for the family-friendly content it does produce.
For example, a couple of years ago Sundance resumed family-friendly programming on its outdoor stage at Sundance Resort. Last week my wife and I attended a dress rehearsal of Sundance Summer Theatre’s The Sound of Music, produced in collaboration with UVU’s School of the Arts.
Anyone performing this musical stands in the long shadows of the movie cast, which featured Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer, but this cast stood on its own and drew us into the story with them. As an experiment, the audience was occasionally invited to join the cast in singing. During the music festival scene (which begins the family’s escape) the singing of “Edelweiss” was especially poignant. I don’t know if that singing will continue in future performances, but it made the evening more memorable for me.
The Sound of Music isn’t family-friendly just because it is “clean”; it also depicts at least two timeless cultural themes which are at the heart of Sutherland’s guiding principles. First, it shows the role and power of family. Maria’s response to the needs of seven children kindles their love for her and draws out the tender father in Captain von Trapp. Second, The Sound of Music illustrates the priceless value of freedom of conscience. In singing “Edelweiss” and defending his Austrian flag, the captain invites the audience to consider what our convictions, our family and our country may require of us.
I express my thanks to Sundance owner Robert Redford and general manager Chad Linebaugh for staging The Sound of Music and congratulate the cast and production staff on their endearing rendition of this deservedly beloved classic. I encourage Sundance and other performing arts groups in Utah to continue producing uplifting entertainment that all Utah families can enjoy.
Stan Swim is a trustee of Sutherland Institute and a member of the UVU School of the Arts Advisory Board.